Japanese companies are eyeing opportunities in India’s nuclear reactors and could be involved in efforts to revive Westinghouse’s plan to build reactors after it filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. According to diplomatic sources, “Japan’s path to India’s nuclear programme has been cleared after country’s Parliament, the ‘Diet’, ratified a civilian nuclear agreement with India, allowing for the export of reactors and components to India despite its weapons programme.” Inked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in November last year, the agreement becomes operational in July.
Ahead of the visit of the Japanese PM later this year for the India-Japan annual summit, there will be meetings between officials from both sides to discuss the commercial aspects of Indian and Japanese companies being keen on supplying the castings of the reactors and other components needed.
“Several Japanese companies big and small including Hitachi and Mitsubishi have expressed their intent to the Japanese government for exploring the Indian market for the commercial interests related to building of the nuclear reactors,” the source added. The Diet had endorsed the Japan-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement that will allow the nation’s firms to export nuclear materials and technology to India for non-military use. The agreement allows Japanese firms to supply nuclear materials, equipment and technologies to India for “peaceful and non-explosive purposes”.
The companies may also provide support services for designing, building and operating reactors. In May, the Indian government approved the construction of 10 units of indigenous pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR), giving a significant impetus to India’s nuclear power generation capacity. This envisages an investment of around `105,000 crore in PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and will give a major boost to the Indian industry.
Sources indicated that there are several opportunities for the Japanese companies to participate in the reactor building in India. One of the major players in India is Larsen & Toubro, which has been at the forefront of developing homegrown capabilities in manufacturing and construction of nuclear power plants since 1972. The civil nuclear deal between the two countries follows a landmark 2006 Indo-US nuclear pact, in which the US had agreed to provide nuclear technology. So far, Japan has concluded nuclear cooperation pacts with 13 countries, including the US, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, Jordan and Turkey.