To meet the high cost of Light Water Reactors, the government has decided to bring in such projects, which currently involve foreign collaborators, as joint ventures (JVs)with public sector undertakings (PSUs).
This will also allow the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) to focus on financing Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) that are coming up in the country.
NPCIL is a PSU under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) that builds and operates nuclear power reactors in the country. It is currently in talks with two other PSUs, the Indian Oil Corporation and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) for JVs.
The government has recently amended the Atomic Energy Act 1962 to enable such JVs with PSUs.
“It has been decided to push future LWR projects for JVs. However, it will not be extended to Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) which the NPCIL is currently building and we will be managing the equity on our own,” said a senior NPCIL official.
The primary reason for such JVs is that the LWRs not only involve high cost, but also require the much needed equity. The PHWR have less capacity and are less expensive in comparison to LWRs. More importantly, the PHWRs are indigenous.
The official, however, added that the JVs will take place if both the parties agree to go for it.
Also, the LWRs Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant unit 5 and 6 will not come under the purview of this new JVs as negotiations for getting soft loans for these reactors are already on.
However, it could be applied for the future LWR projects. India currently operates four LWRs—KKNPP unit 1-4— while work for the 5 and 6 is on.
“We are currently in negotiations with banks for getting 70 per cent of funding in the form of debt financing while 30 per cent of the equity will come from JVs,” the official added.
In near future, some 18 LWRs reactors are to come up in the country. French Company EDF will built six LWRs with a capacity of 1650 MW each in Jaitapur, Maharashtra while WestingHouse Co is expected to build another six units of 1000 MW each in Andhra Pradesh.
Six more of 1000 MW each are to come up with the help of GE. The Russians too have been marked another site in Andhra Pradesh for building more LWRs. The NPCIL is currently building two reactors of 700 MW each in Gorakhpur in Haryana, Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, MahiBanswara in Rajasthan and Kaiga in Karnataka.
India currently generates 6,780 MW of nuclear electricity.