BHEL wins its biggest order to build turbine islands for 6 reactors in India

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India’s state-run electrical equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) announced earlier this month that it has won its largest ever order from the government-owned operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for the construction of turbine islands for six reactor units of 700 MW each in the country.

The six orders, received on August 30, 2021, pertain to the setting up of four units of 700 MW each at the proposed nuclear power plant at Gorakhpur in Haryana state, and two units of similar capacity at Kaiga in the southern state of Karnataka.

“BHEL secures largest ever order worth Rs 10,800 crores ($1.48 billion) from NPCIL for EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) of Turbine Island for 6 units of 700 MWe,” the company said in a stock exchange filing.

In July, BHEL had won another NPCIL order worth Rs 1,405 crore ($192 million) for the supply of 12 nuclear steam generators for indigenously-developed 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) to be set up at four different locations in the country.

Earlier this year, BHEL had said it had won another NPCIL order for the supply of 32 reactor header assemblies for the country’s indigenously-developed 700 MW PHWRs to be set up at four separate locations.

In a statement, BHEL said that this was the first order placed under NPCIL’s Fleet Mode Procurement programme that will help significantly boost Indian domestic manufacturing. The NPCIL Chairman S.K. Sharma announced last year that India will construct ten new PHWR units in the fleet mode, thereby facilitating procurement activities, manufacturing and construction of these units.

The Indian government has approved the fleet mode construction of ten PHWRs of 700 MW capacity each at a total estimated cost of $16.3 billion. The fleet mode of construction of multiple units ensures standardisation, lower costs and speeding up the setting up of nuclear power plants in the country. The 10 planned reactors are units 5 and 6 at the Kaiga in Karnataka state, units 1 and 2 at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, 4 units at Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan and units 1 and 2 at Gorakhpur in Haryana.

BHEL said it has been associated with all the three stages of the Indian nuclear power programme as the primary supplier to NPCIL for reactor headers, steam turbines, steam generators, motors and other equipment. Till date, all the reactor header assemblies for 700 MW PHWR projects in India have been supplied by BHEL. Besides, some 75 percent of PHWR plants in the country are equipped with BHEL-supplied turbine and generator sets, while the rest of such sets have been imported.

In July last year, India achieved criticality with its first indigenously built 700 MW PHWR for the Kakrapar unit 3 in Gujarat state. Three other PHWRs are already under construction – Kakrapar unit 4, and Rajasthan 7 and 8 in Rajasthan. India currently has 22 reactors in operation with a total capacity of 6,780 MW. 8 reactors are under construction with a combined capacity of 6,200 MW. On completion of these under construction, NPCIL’s capacity will reach 12,980 MW by 2025.

In addition, the government has given administrative approval and financial sanction for 12 new reactors with a total capacity of 9,000 MW. India’s current nuclear power capacity is expected to increase to 22,480 MW by 2031 on the completion of these proposed projects.

Currently two Russian-made VVER units of 1,000 MW capacity each are operating at the Kudankulam NPP (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu state. Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom are the equipment suppliers and technical consultants for KNPP, where 4 more VVER-1000 units are under construction. As per an intergovernmental agreement, Rosatom will also help construct 6 more units in India at another location.

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