Wednesday, January 21, 2009

NPCIL-NTPC joint venture idea for nuclear power

AEC endorses NPCIL-NTPC joint venture idea for nuclear power

State-owned Nuclear Power Corporation and NTPC have moved a step closer towards setting up a joint venture for nuclear power production, with Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) endorsing the idea of synergy between the two.

"NTPC and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) had already signed an MOU late last year for the joint venture with a holding of 51 per cent by NPCIL and 49 per cent by NTPC. The joint venture proposal of these two undertakings was taken up for discussion on Monday by AEC which endorsed the idea," sources told PTI.

If India has to speed up the nuclear capacity to its ambitious target of 60,000 MW by 2030, it was important to take advantage of vast experience of NTPC, predominantly engaged in thermal power production, sources said.

"With nuclear expertise of NPCIL and NTPC's experience in power production, a long-term perspective of the synergy was favourably considered by the AEC," they said.

The AEC will deliberate upon the proposal in due course to work out details of terms and conditions, safeguards and other issues for the smooth functioning of the joint venture.

After working out the details, the proposal will go for cabinet approval and once approved, this will be the first joint venture to set up nuclear power plants in India.

NTPC has a good track record of producing over 27,000 MW of thermal power using mostly coal, and is in an advantageous position in terms of distribution and transmission of power and a wide networking with state electricity boards, sources said.

At present, 17 nuclear plants are run by NPCIL, an undertaking under the Department of Atomic Energy.

NPCIL has nuclear power plants at Tarapur (Maharashtra), Kakrapar (Gujarat), Kaiga (Karnataka), Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu), Kota (Rajasthan) and Narora (Uttar Pradesh) with a total capacity of 4120 MW and with six more plants under advanced stages of completion, it would go up to 7280 MW in the next year. Experts feel that if the JV is approved by the Centre, it would pave the way for private sector in nuclear power generation.

However, it is unlikely for private sector to enter this area, at least in the next five to six years as it required amendments in Indian Atomic energy Act besides working out nitty-gritties of the 123 agreement and India specific safeguards agreements with IAEA.

Already companies like Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Tata Power, Reliance Infrastructure, GMR, Jindal group, Hindujas, BHEL have evinced interest in setting up nuclear power plants.

Also, last week, US power major Westinghouse signed an MoU with L&T for fabrication and construction of a nuclear reactor in India. L&T is already supplying critical components for the construction of nuclear power plants to NPCIL besides providing civil work.

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