Although the contours of a project between the bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Company and National Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) to build six nuclear reactors could change, the venture is safe, according to sources familiar with the development. They added a “new business model” was being worked out under which Westinghouse would provide the design for the six reactors, which would then be built by the Indian partner. The deal, which is critical to India’s plans to ramp up nuclear capacity by three times over 10 years, is understood to have been discussed by officials of the US and Indian governments during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the US.
The multi-billion dollar deal had been initiated by the Prime Minister and US President Barack Obama when the two had met in Washington in June 2016; the formalities were to have been completed by mid-2017. While the deadline may need to be extended, sources said, they believed the project was alive. The reactors are to be located in Andhra Pradesh and the total cost for the project is estimated at close to $20 billion. The venture would be funded by the US Exim Bank.
In March this year, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy even as the company’s parent , Japan’s Toshiba, grappled with losses resulting from Westinghouse’s troubled nuclear projects in the south of America. India is hoping to treble nuclear power capacity over a period of 10 years, from the prevailing capacity of 4,780 MW in July 2014. According to a reply provided in Parliament, with the commencement of the commercial operation of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project’s (KNPP) Unit-1 (1,000 MW) in December 2014, the installed nuclear power capacity in the country reached 5,780 MW.
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In addition, KNPP Unit-2 (1,000 MW) was connected to the grid in August 2016. With this, the installed nuclear power capacity in the country is 6,780 MW. Additionally, four reactors with a total capacity of 2,800 MW are under construction and four more with a total capacity of 3,400 MW have been sanctioned the government.