Saturday, November 18, 2006

>Power cos brace up for nuclear rush

Indian power majors are all set to foray into nuclear power generation.
Electricity generators, such as
  • Tata Power,
  • Reliance Energy (REL) and
  • NTPC
Equipment suppliers, such as
  • ABB,
  • Siemens and
  • L&T ,
are hoping the Centre would soon open up the sector for their participation to beef up nuclear power generation , which has so far been a monopoly of public sector Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).

Indian companies, including
  • L&T
  • Bhel and
  • Walchandnagar, would also benefit, especially with their understanding of the local market and logistics.
REL ED Lalit Jalan told ET the company was awaiting government nod. “We have a team in place, which is being headed by former NPCIL CMD VK Chaturvedi. We also have vendors ready to supply equipment,” said Mr Jalan.

Tata Power spokesperson said the company has always been keen to enter the sector. A few months ago, on August 1, Tata Power chairman Ratan Tata had told the company’s AGM that the power generator would like to participate in alternative forms, including nuclear power. He had said Tata Consulting Engineers, with its alliances, has built expertise in design of nuclear reactors.

Apart from REL and Tata Power, India’s largest generation company
NTPC has also announced its plans to enter the nuclear power sector. In fact, both REL and NTPC had earlier initiated talks with NPCIL to “explore possible ways” .

NTPC’s initial plan includes setting up a 2,000 mw nuclear plant by 2017.

According to NPCIL estimates ,
India could add 20,000-40 ,000 mw of nuclear power capacity over the next 10 years or so if private sector companies — both Indian and foreign — enter the sector.

Industry officials said REL has already held talks with international nuclear reactor builders, including GE and Atom Story Export of Russia, for a possible JV. It has carried out techno-economic viability of various advanced reactors from the US, France, Germany and Russia, apart from checking the viability of the indigenous heavy water reactors.

Among the companies that stand to benefit the most by supplying nuclear power plants to a powerstarved India are
  • Toshiba,
  • Areva,
  • Hitachi,
  • GE and
  • Siemens
  • Russian companies that are already building a plant in Koodamkulam Tamil Nadu.

One of the leading players in the international nu clear business is Areva NP (earlier Framatome) formed as a JV between Areva and Siemens in 2001. The original company, Framatome, has built over 90 reactors and accounts for about 30% of the world’s total nuclear capacity.

The pioneer in the nuclear industry is Westinghouse , the supplier of the world’s first reactor based on pressurised water technology in 1957. The company, earlier a subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels, has now been taken over by Toshiba, another important player in the segment. Westinghouse has provided more than 40% of the world’s 434 operating commercial nuclear plants.

Among the other companies, Hitachi and GE announced a tie-up earlier this week. GE developed
the first reactor based on boiling water technology. The two companies have commissioned more than 60 reactors.

What differentiates nuclear equipment from other streams is the stringent quality requirements and elaborate testing procedures . This acts as an important entry barrier and there are very few, but large, players.

No comments: