India to launch 16 new nuclear reactors

Chennai: The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will launch 16 reactors at an outlay of Rs.2.3 trillion ($40 billion) during the 12th Plan period (2012-17), a top official of the atomic power operator said.

“We have to launch eight 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) and eight light water reactors (LWRs) involving a total outlay of Rs.230,000 crore (Rs.2.3 trillion). The LWRs will be from foreign companies,” said S.K. Jain, who retired Thursday as NPCIL chairman and managing director.

According to him, the eight 700 MW PHWRs would come up at Kaiga in Karnataka, Gorakhpur in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, Banswada in Rajasthan and Chutka in Madhya Pradesh.

The 16 reactors are in addition to NPCIL’s four 700 MW PHWRs under construction – two at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (units 7 and 8) and two at Kakrapara in Gujarat – at an outlay of Rs.22,000 crore.

The NPCIL currently generates 4,780 MW of power. The new additions of 4,800 will take this to 9,580 MW. A 500 MW reactor to be commissioned by another company, Bhavini, will take India’s installed nuclear power capacity to 10,080 MW by the end of the 12th Plan.

This will be three percent of the 300,000 MW generation capacity planned by 2017. India currently generates a little less than 200,000 MW of power.

Jain, who had a long stint as the NPCIL head, added that raising funds will not be an issue for the projects.

“NPCIL is sitting on Rs.15,000 crore which we call as cash for investment. In addition, the company has entered into joint ventures with NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and Nalco for setting up nuclear power plants. Each one of them is a giant in its own field.”

On the strength of these companies’ balance sheets, additional funds of Rs.40,000 crore could be raised and with NPCIL’s internal accruals, a total of Rs.80,000 crore could be mobilised, Jain said.

“Eighteen overseas banks have come out for arranging debt to NPCIL’s expression of interest that was floated recently. Four have said they would underwrite the entire debt funding for our projects,” Jain said.

According to him the company is looking at external commercial borrowings (ECBs) and export credit agencies (ECA) for funds and over a month ago, NPCIL raised $250 million through ECBs.

He said three public-private-partnership joint venture companies have been incorporated and the projects would be soon allotted for them after the Atomic Energy Act is amended to allow such tie-ups in the nuclear field.

Referring to the two equipment joint ventures that NPCIL has entered into, Jain said the company has tied up site, money and technology and is all set to progress further.

NPCIL has entered into a three-way joint venture with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and Alstom for manufacturing turbines for the 700MW PHWRs.

“As far as PHWRs are concerned, we have now finalised that the minimum size would be 700 MW. In the future we may also make the turbines at this plant for imported reactors,” he added.

The atomic power plant operator has another joint venture with Larsen and Toubro for making forgings for nuclear power plants.

While Jain was silent on the fuel position, industry officials told IANS that the domestic fuel situation is comfortable for NPCIL as it will be getting 60 percent more uranium for powering four new reactors.


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