French team in Mumbai on N-research mission

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Oct 16 2009, 03:40am hrs
French companies are exploring opportunities with their Indian counterparts in the areas of nuclear reactor, front-end fuel cycle, back-end waste management and human resources development. A high-level delegation of French companies is now in Mumbai to interact with Indian companies for possible tie-ups.

This is crucial, as India is chasing a nuclear target of 20 GWe by 2020. It will go up to 63GWe by 2032. Market potential for manufacturing and engineering services is pegged at Rs 1,30,000 crore by 2020.

State-run Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) and French nuclear reactor maker Areva have entered into a pact to build two European pressurised reactors (EPR), each with an output in excess of 1,650 mw. These EPRs will be supplied for NPCILs project at Jaitapur in Maharshtra. Besides, Areva has already announced its plan to set up a nuclear reactor forgings facility in India in association with Bharat Forge. The project entails an investment of over Rs 2,000 crore.

Areva is also holding talks with Indian companies such as Tata, L&T, Reliance, Lanco and Punj Lloyd, as they have expressed interest to participate in construction of nuclear power plants. NPCIL chairman and managing director SK Jain observed that the nuclear capacity addition of 63 GWe by 2032 is achievable through indigenous programmes as well as by using imported reactors. L&Ts senior vice-president (heavy engineering) MV Kotwal opined that India, which has every potential to increase its nuclear capacity to 63 GWe, can become a major hub for global supply chain for the nuclear sector.

PricewaterhouseCoopers on Wednesday released a report titled Opportunities and Challenges for Indo-French cooperation in the Nuclear Industry. The report says that France gets 75% of its electricity requirement from nuclear power. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the investors looking at exploring opportunities in the nuclear sector need fiscal support in terms of production incentives, tax credits, concessionary loans, and other fiscal benefits. A number of respondents suggested that the government should extend a long-term finance facility at concessionary rates. Besides, the limit for external commercial borrowing should be increased to allow overseas borrowing to help reduce financing costs.

However, the report expresses concern over nuclear fuel disruption and expects that the imported reactors must come with lifetime fuel supply guarantees. It says French nuclear companies like Areva are market leaders. France had a similar growth phase in 1970s and there are similarities in the nuclear programmes of both the countries. The report studies the opportunities and challenges of the Indo-French nuclear cooperation. Representatives of more than 35 organisations from both the countries were interviewed.