Nuclear Power Corporation to invest $13 billion in 10 years news
09 September 2008

Mumbai: The nuclear power sector will witness investments of over Rs60,000 crore (over 13 billion) over the next 10 years once the civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the US comes into force, J K Ghai, director, finance of state-run Nuclear Power Corporation, said.

The estimates include only planned investments by state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), the sole nuclear power generator in the country.

Several companies in the private sector, including GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd, also plan to buy reactors and equipment from General Electric Co and Westinghouse Electric Co when the ban on India's nuclear trade is lifted.

Besides, scores of big and small manufacturers and sub-contractors are also planning to enter manufacturing of nuclear power equipment.

NPCIL proposes to more than double capacity from 4,200 MW to 10,000 MW in the next two years, J K Ghai, director, finance of NPCIL, said.

Once the nuclear pact with the US is through and amendments are made to India's Atomic Energy Act, nuclear power capacity in the country could hit 10,000 MW by 2018, he said, adding, this will translate into direct investment opportunities of Rs60,000 crore in ten years.

The investments will in fact be much larger, considering that several companies will be ready with the technology to manufacture and supply equipment for nuclear power plants by the time the agreement is ratified by the US government.

State-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and private sector engineering giant Larsen & Toubro have already finalised plans to enter the sector. BHEL already has a joint venture with NPCIL to manufacture nuclear reactors of 700 MW and 1000 MW capacity, while L&T and NPCIL have plans to float a joint forging venture.

Reliance Energy, Tata Power, Siemens, GMR, Areva T&D, Alstom Projects and many other companies are readying plans to enter the sector with plans to manufacture and supply nuclear core as also manufacture and supply boilers, turbines and generators.

''The deal is going to have three direct impacts on the Indian corporates -- first, NPCIL's growth prospects will become manifold; second, new avenues for domestic equipment manufacturing will unfold and third, cost of setting up a plant will become competitive and in line with international standards,'' Ghai said.

NPCIL is already partnering companies such as L&T, Kirloskar Brothers, Godrej, BHEL, L&T, Gammon and HCC as industry partners.

While NPCIL has a capacity to set up three plants simultaneously, the entry of private sector companies will also help reduce time lag in construction of nuclear power plants, he said.

A nuclear power plant takes 60 to 70 months for setting up, entailing a cost of Rs6 crore per megawatt approximately. Private sector entry could help increase the pace of construction and help reduce time lag in power capacity addition, he pointed out.

''With private players coming in, the pace of implementation will get a major thrust,'' he said.

The deal will benefit NPCIL with timely availability of uranium as the known indigenous sources of uranium in the country can support capacities of 10,000 MW only.

NPCL envisages a three-stage development of nuclear power capacity in the country, beginning with uranium, followed by fast breeder reactors and then into thorium-based reactors in the final stage.

Though India has huge reserves of thorium in Kerala, the country lacked the necessary technical know-how and the new deal would help bridge the technology gap, he added.

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Nuclear Power Corporation to invest $13 billion in 10 years