India’s largest power producer, the state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) will go solo on future nuclear energy plants after completing work on a project that’s being set up in collaboration with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).
“Our MoU with NPCIL does not prohibit us from pursuing nuclear ambitions on our own. In fact, it facilitates such exercise. Being a government-run company, we are also permitted under existing regulations to set up nuclear power plants,” said an NTPC official recently in New Delhi. The Corporation may go in for technical tie-ups for such projects.
NTPC has signed an MoU with NPCIL to form a joint venture company to set up a 2,000-mw nuclear power project to come up by 2017. It is now likely that NTPC would begin negotiations with global nuclear power reactor suppliers after initiating work on the projects with NPCIL.
The plan is at an initial stage. We will first identify sites for projects before deciding on how to move further. The collaboration with NPCIL is expected to enrich our domain knowledge that would help in expanding our nuclear portfolio,” said the official.
The two companies are expected to go in for reactor size of 1,000 mw or 1,600 mw though no final decision has been taken. NPCIL has already entered into an understanding with French energy major Areva for supply of 1,600 mw reactors and is collaborating with Russian suppliers for 1000 mw capacity.
A Power Ministry official said that the joint venture project could also be indigenously-developed using 700 x 2 mw pressurised heavy water, or imported light water reactors sourced from the US, Russia or France.
After the Indo-US civil nuclear deal and waiver from Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), India has identified nuclear power as a thrust area and is looking at rapid expansion in the sector, which has been so far constricted due to severe shortage of uranium fuel. India plans to add 60,000 mw of nuclear capacity by 2030 in a bid to end peak power shortages, which reached around 13 percent mark last year. Nuclear power is considered a safer and a less polluting option for generation of electricity.
NTPC’s proposed solo foray into nuclear power generation is good news for the sector as it would bring it years of expertise of the PSU in power sector for rapid expansion of even nuclear power generation.
Country’s current installed nuclear power capacity is 4,120 mw with entire programme being run by the government owned NPCIL through its 17 nuclear reactors which are operating from six locations. The government has now allowed other state-run entities to enter into JV with NPCIL for expansion, though they are allowed to pursue their own ambitions in nuclear power generation.