Indian joint venture for nuclear components

30 November 2009

India will have a world-class heavy forging facility for future nuclear power plants after a joint venture by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T).


The signing of the joint venture agreement in Mumbai
The joint venture will construct a new facility at L&T's existing manufacturing site in Hazira, Surat, Gujarat state, which will have a dedicated steel melt shop producing ingots of up to 600 tonnes, as well as a heavy forge shop equipped with a forging press that will be amongst the largest in the world. The facility will supply finished forgings for nuclear reactors, pressurizers and steam generators, and also heavy forgings for critical equipment in the hydrocarbon sector and for thermal power plants. The coastal location of the Hazira plant will also facilitate multi-modal transportation and export of parts produced at the joint venture facility.


In a joint statement, the companies said: "The new fully integrated facility ... would significantly augment India's capabilities in manufacturing critical components for the nuclear power industry." They added, "Indigenous manufacture of forgings will close a critical cap in Indian industry's capability to produce equipment for nuclear, thermal power and hydrocarbon plants. It will enable a significant reduction in cycle times."


Anil Kakodkar, secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy and chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, commented: "The establishment of JV between NPCIL and L&T reflects our vision of steady progress for growth of nuclear power in the country in a self reliant manner." He added, "The facility would contribute in closing the gap in the supply chain for nuclear power reactors, a wide spectrum of installations for nuclear fuel cycle and other infrastructure applications, like hydrocarbon and power."


L&T chairman and managing director A M Naik added, "This JV will place India amongst the few countries in the world capable of producing nuclear grade heavy forgings. When combined with the established facilities in Hazira, this venture will form part of a fully integrated high technology manufacturing complex." He noted that L&T has previously provided NPCIL with nuclear power plant systems and equipment and that the new joint venture "will add a new dimension to our long standing relationship."


According to a Bloomberg report, the new plant will start in 2011, while exports are set to begin by 2013.


L&T is India's biggest engineering and construction company and makes reactor pressure vessels for the country's pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs), fast breeder reactor and steam generators. It has been involved in supply of equipment, systems and services for nearly all the PHWRs that have been indigenously built, including the manufacture of calandrias, end-shields, steam generators, primary heat transport system and heat exchangers.


The company signed four agreements with foreign nuclear power reactor vendors in early 2009. The first, with Westinghouse, sets up L&T to produce component modules for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor. The second agreement was with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd "to develop a competitive cost/scope model for the ACR-1000." In April, L&T signed an agreement with Russia's AtomStroyExport primarily focused on components for the next four VVER reactors at Kudankulam, but extending beyond that to other Russian VVER plants in India and internationally. In May, it signed an agreement with GE-Hitachi to produce major components for ABWRs - the two companies hope to utilize indigenous Indian capabilities for the complete construction of nuclear power plants including the supply of reactor equipment and systems, valves, electrical and instrumentation products for ABWR plants to be built in India.


In a separate development, NPCIL announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India's state-owned National Aluminium Co (Nalco) for collaboration in setting up nuclear power plants in the country.


According to the MoU, Nalco intends to invest in nuclear power generation as part of its strategy to diversify into commercial generation and sale of electricity and to leverage its experience in power generation by establishing nuclear power plants jointly with NPCIL.