The United States and India are looking for ways to cooperate in civil nuclear energy in order to address the global energy crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. Geoffrey R. Pyatt, assistant secretary of state for Energy Resources, discussed with Indian counterparts the issues that had been preventing civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries. Pyatt highlighted the importance of bilateral energy cooperation and the potential of small and marginal reactors, which could be suitable for the Indian environment. The two countries have been discussing the supply of U.S. nuclear reactors to India since a 2008 landmark civil nuclear energy pact, but a major obstacle has been the need to bring Indian liability rules in-line with international norms. In 2016, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and U.S. energy firm Westinghouse agreed to build six nuclear reactors in the Indian state of Andra Pradesh, but the project was abandoned after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in 2017. Pyatt also mentioned that Washington seeks to boost cooperation with India in the green hydrogen sector.
Jitendra Singh, an Indian minister of state for science and technology, announced on Feb. 19 that the government had approved the installation of 10 nuclear reactors in the country, including one in Haryana, North India. An amount of 4,906 crores ($59,306) has been spent from the total allocated funds of 20,594 crores ($356,659). Singh also said that the government plans to form joint ventures with public sector organizations for the opening of atomic energy plants that will help meet the country’s energy demands “in times to come.”
India has proposed to reduce power generation from at least 81 coal-fired plants over the next four years, but the proposal did not involve shutting down any of its 179 coal power plants. Last month, India asked utilities not to retire coal-fired power plants till 2030 due to a surge in electricity demand. India, the world’s second-largest consumer, producer, and importer of coal, fell short of its 2022 renewable energy addition target by nearly a third. Power demand in India has surged in recent months due to extreme weather, rising household use of electricity as more companies allow employees to work from home, and a pickup in industrial activity after the easing of COVID-related restrictions.