A study conducted by an online research portal reports that the Indian nuclear power market is estimated to touch $40 billion or Rs 20,000 crore by 2020. This mainly includes opportunities for power equipment manufacturers, uranium suppliers and forging companies in and outside India.
Companies from Russia, France and Kazakhstan are among those discussing fuel and equipment supply with the government for forthcoming nuclear power plants. India has 17 operating nuclear power reactors and plans to increase the current capacity of 4120 mw to 10,000 mw by 2012.
J. K. Ghai, Director-finance, Nuclear Power Corp of India (NPCIL), said the country can comfortably reach a capacity of 10,000 mw with indigenous mined uranium. But foreign collaboration would be required to go beyond that.
Nuclear power currently accounts for only 2.3 percent of India’s total electricity generation. The government is planning to develop nuclear power in order to address its power scarcity issues, reduce its dependency on imported oil and coal.
“The country has set a target of reaching about 5.0 percent nuclear contribution to the country’s total power amounting to 20GW by 2020 and 63GW contributing to about 35 percent by 2030. The Indo-US nuclear deal makes such a high target feasible,” the report said.
The report also talks about major opportunities openings for companies such as Larsen & Toubro, Bhel, Bharat Forge, Punj Lloyd and NTPC. At present, nuclear power production is under government control and only NPCIL can set up and run nuclear power plants. Indian companies can only hold minority stakes in joint ventures with NPCIL. However, industry experts believe that the law is likely to be amended soon, allowing the entry of private players.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “The Atomic Energy Act needs to be amended to permit private corporate investment in nuclear power, subject to regulation by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the Atomic Energy Commission.”
This rapid expansion of the Indian nuclear power market comes after the September 2008 nuclear co-operation agreement with the US and similar tie-ups with other countries such as Russia and France for fuel and technology supply.
On February 11, 2009, the Department of Atomic Energy signed a $700 million contract with Russia’s TVEL for supply of 2,000 tonnes of uranium pellets.
TVEL also fabricates and delivers fuel for the Kudankulam nuclear power plant being set up in co-operation with Russia. Earlier this, the Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad had placed an order for 300 tonnes of uranium ore concentrate with France-based Areva.