Indian generators think ahead

11 April 2007

Indian power companies are drawing provisional plans for a huge expansion in nuclear capacity after the expected lifting of trade restrictions.

Reports in the Indian newspaper Financial Express indicate that Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is discussing the construction of a 10,000 MWe nuclear plant composed of six of Areva's EPR pressurized water reactor units in the state of Maharashtra. Most other NPCIL units are indigenously developed pressurised heavy water reactors.

Officials would hope to begin work on the first of the EPRs as early as 2008. Chairman of the company, S K Jain said such a project would cost just $11.4 billion in India.

Separately, India's largest electric utility, NTPC, has made moves towards exploiting nuclear power for the first time. On 5 March the company's board of directors approved a proposal to amend its association documents to allow the use of nuclear power. NTPC decribed this as a strategic initiative.

Consultants including former staff of NPCIL and the Atomic Energy Commission were hired to define a roadmap for NTPC, resulting in the goal of 6000 MWe of nuclear capacity. According to NTPC chair and managing director, T Sankaralingam: "We will have 2000 MWe of nuclear power generation by the middle of the 12th plan (2012-2017). Simultaneously, we will work on two power plants of 2000 MWe each."

NTPC are reportedly in discussion with General Electric and Thorium Power. The company is considering sites in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra.

Officials from both companies recognise that trade restrictions must be lifted before Western hardware can be employed. Negotiations are currently underway between India and the USA toward a '123' Agreement necessary for US-India trade, already sanctioned by President George Bush. Following agreement, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group will likely draft new guidelines for its members, allowing widespread nuclear trade with India.

Further information

Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL)

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