The civilian nuclear energy agreement between India and the United States has opened up opportunities of enormous proportions for both countries. It will help both countries to undertake expansion of their nuclear power generating capacities. While India expects to benefit from the deal in terms of improved supply dof nuclear fuel and upgradation of technology, it is in a position to offer to US companies, highly-skilled and low-cost manpower who execute construction of plants in both countries.
The massive two-way trade opportunities in the field of nuclear energy were highlighted by experts from both countries said at a recent seminar, organized by the Georgia Institute of Technology.
US companies will now be able to work on nuclear power plants in India, which plans to increase its nuclear power output from 3,800 megawatts to at least 30,000 megawatts over the next 25-30 years. The US currently produces about 100,000 megawatts of nuclear power.
Under the agreement, India will be able to provide engineers and technology for the U.S. nuclear power plant expansion, which would be possible as India’s nuclear industry grows.
For instance, if Southern Co. gets approval for two new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Ga. it might be able to hire engineers from India as the U.S. faces a critical manpower shortage in the nuclear field.
Southern Co. wants to build two new 1,150 megawatt reactors at Plant Vogtle. Vogtle currently has two reactors, each capable of producing 1,215 megawatts of power.
Anupam Srivastava, Director of the Asia Program at the University of Georgia’s Center for International Trade and Security, estimated that US companies will be benefited by $10 billion to $12 billion in business over the next seven or eight years from India’s nuclear expansion.
In the US, applications for 26 new reactors are pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said spokesman Joey Ledford.
As India’s nuclear industry grows, it will be able to provide the US sector with engineers, said V. Siddhartha, member of a United Nations committee on nuclear non-proliferation. A recent report by the American Physical Society cited “critical shortages” in the US nuclear workforce, in part because of a 30-year lull in nuclear plant construction here.
“Insourcing” engineers, parts, components and sub-systems from India could lower the capital costs of U.S. nuclear plant construction, Siddhartha said. India is also researching nuclear reactors that use a chemical element, Thorium, as fuel.
“India’s vast Thorium reserves – the second largest in the world – could very well become the world’s nuclear fuel of choice by the middle of the century,” Siddhartha said.
“The business opportunity is a two-way opportunity,” he said of the U-S.-India nuclear deal. “It’s not a one-way opportunity.”