Renewed hopes for Indian Nuclear Power Project after Westinghouse take over

Progress in the techno-commercial negotiations between India and the US’ Westinghouse Electric Company on the construction of USD 20 billion six units of AP-1000 nuclear power reactors hinges on the operation of the reference plant of the above design in the US.

The Indian Government has told the Parliament that the discussions between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and the Westinghouse has been going on after the latter “expressed willingness” to continue with the proposed project at Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh.

Further progress in these discussions will depend upon finalization of techno-commercial aspects of the project that are acceptable to the Indian side and upon establishing the viability of the project. “A Techno-Commercial Offer has been submitted by M/s WEC to the NPCIL, on which negotiations have been initiated. Further progress in the negotiation will also depend on the operation of reference plant of the above design in US,” the Union Minister of State (MoS, Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS Prime Ministers Office, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh told Lok Sabha in a written reply.

In the beginning of this year the bankrupted US nuclear firm Westinghouse was acquired by the Canadian investment firm Brookfield Business Partners, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management for USD 4.6 billion. The agreement was arrived at between Brookfield Business Partners and Toshiba Corporation in January. This acquisition is subjected to the bankruptcy approval for Westinghouse from a court that is expected later in 2018. Only after the court approval will the purchase be final. But, the development is seen as the ray of hope for the recovery of the Westinghouse and a way out of the quagmire for the Andhra Pradesh nuclear power plant project.

The Andhra Pradesh project has been hanging fire after Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in March 2017. The deal was announced amidst much fanfare by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former US President Barack Obama. The deal has been seen as the first outcome of the landmark Indo-US Nuclear Deal of 2006 that ended India’s nuclear apartheid. New Delhi had also allotted a site for a 2,500 MW nuclear power station in Gujarat and identified locations for 6 units in Andhra Pradesh.

The project is planned to be set up at Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh and comprises of six units of 1208 MW each. “The cost and schedule of the project will emerge upon finalisation of the project proposal and accord of its administrative approval and financial sanction by the Government,” Dr. Singh had told the Parliament on earlier occasions.