L&T develops knowhow for N-power plant of 3,000 mw

Written by fe Bureaus | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 30 2009, 05:52am hrs
Heavy engineering and construction giant Larsen & Toubro has developed the expertise to manufacture nuclear power plants of 3,000 mw range but does not expect orders for them soon. Chairman and managing director of the company, AM Naik said he doesnt expect the country to generate at that level at least in the initial years. I dont think the country would be ready to generate beyond 2000 mw. We may have to explore the options to export our additional capacity, said Naik.

The firm which has already invested $500 million (Rs 2,500 crore) in its nuclear business is yet unclear on the returns that it would reap from its nuclear division. We could earn anywhere between Rs1,500 crore to Rs 8,000 crore annually from the nuclear business in the next five years.

Naik explained that if the company managed to get turnkey projects in the sector, its earnings could be more than Rs 7,000-crore per annum only from its nuclear business. Much of these estimations are hypothetical though, Naik added. Let me do the whole thing (nuclear plant) and I will deliver it in five years, Naik said.

On being asked whether the company would like to enter into electricity generation through nuclear power, Naik said According to present law, private players are not allowed to generate electricity through nuclear power. It will depend on the government policy.

L&T has already signed co-operation agreements with major nuclear reactor makers like Atomstroyexport (ASE), part of Rosatom of Russia, Toshiba Westinghouse of the US and Atomic Energy of Canada (AEC). The company is also in talks with Areva of France.

Earlier speaking at the inaugural session, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said India needs to give a major thrust to nuclear energy to overcome power shortage and fuel economic growth. He said given the limitations of the conventional sources of energy, Our all requirement will only be met by considering nuclear and non-conventional resources.

Mukherjee said there was a strong case for a major nuclear power programme with a long-term vision. Quality power is essential requirement. Our conventional sources are not at all adequate to achieve the desired energy in terms of electricity generation.

Noting that coal resources are depleting and the potential of hydel power potential is limited, Mukherjee said over-exploitation of conventional resources are also raising environmental concerns. But nuclear energy is clean and self-alternating compared to fossil fuels.

Recalling the contribution of Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the nuclear physicist who laid the groundwork for Indias nuclear programme, Mukherjee said he started his work at a time when nuclear science was in the stage of infancy and people were not sure what role it could play in economic development.

Speaking at the same venue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh insisted that global non-proliferation to be successful should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory and linked to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament. Singh made the comments just days after the UN Security Council, at a session presided by US President Barack Obama, adopted a resolution asking all non-NPT states to sign the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.