India’s biggest thermal power generator to develop 4200 MW of nuclear jointly with NPCIL

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India’s state-run thermal power giant NTPC has signed a supplementary joint venture agreement with the government-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for the development of nuclear power projects in the country.  

An Indian Power Ministry statement last month said the joint venture (JV) will develop two pressurized heavy-water reactor projects, which include the 1,400 MW Chutka project in Madhya Pradesh state and the 2,800 MW Mahi Banswara plant in Rajasthan. 

“Initially, the JV company shall develop two Pressurized Heavy-Water Reactor (PHWR) projects, the 2×700 MW Chutka, Madhya Pradesh Atomic Power Project  and the 4×700 MW Mahi Banswara Rajasthan Atomic Power Project, which were identified as a part of the fleet mode nuclear projects,” the Power Ministry statement said.  

The government has given administrative approval and financial sanction for building 12 additional nuclear reactors in the country with an aggregate generation capacity of 9,000 MW. Of these, 10 will be indigenously manufactured 700-MW pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) and two light water reactors (LWRs) with Russian cooperation. 

The agreement to create the NPCIL and the NTPC atomic power joint venture – Anushakti Vidhyut Nigam Ltd –  was signed in 2010, while the recent supplementary agreement modifies the terms of the collaboration into a 50:50 partnership, according to an NTPC statement. 

“Supplementary joint venture agreement has been signed to amend the earlier JV agreement for changes necessitated due to amendment in the Atomic Energy Act and to restructure the NTPC and NPCIL Joint Venture Company, ASHVINI to have equal (50:50) partnership/shareholding of NTPC and NPCIL, instead of 49:51 shareholding earlier,” NTPC said in a stock exchange filing. 

“This supplementary Joint Venture Agreement marks a pivotal step for NTPC Ltd. and NPCIL to collaborate and cooperate in the field of development of nuclear power projects which shall help the country in meeting its Clean Energy Commitments to achieve net zero emission target by 2070,” the Power Ministry said.  

The government had earlier amended the law to enable the NPCIL form joint ventures for the construction of nuclear power plants. In order to boost domestic investment in the nuclear sector, NPCIL has already set up joint ventures with three other government-run organisations – NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and the National Aluminium Company (NALCO). 

NPCIL has also signed a 74:26 joint venture agreement with the Indian Oil Corporation to incorporate the NPCIL-Indianoil Nuclear Energy Corporation Ltd in 2011. 

Chancellor of the Homi Bhabha National Institute and former Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Anil Kakodkar, told Nuclear Asia in an interview earlier that the ongoing decarbonisation efforts globally have helped create a larger market for small modular reactors (SMRs).    

Kakodkar is of the opinion that SMR designs in India should be jointly developed by the Mumbai-based Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the country’s largest power generator, NTPC, which could utilise the sites and infrastructure of the latter’s retiring thermal power plants.   

Citing industry sources, media in India reported in December 2022 that NTPC is planning to build a massive nuclear fleet and aims to install 20 to 30 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2040. The company, which generates 90 percent of its power from fossil fuels, has announced that it will construct SMRs as well as conventional pressurised water reactors (PWRs). 

Also in December last year, NTPC had announced that the group, including joint ventures and arms, had installed over 3 GW of operational renewable energy capacity. The NTPC Group achieved this milestone with the commissioning of the first part capacity of 100 MW out of the 300 MW Nokhra solar PV project at Bikaner in Rajasthan state, on December 20, 2022, a company statement said.

The group had earlier crossed 2 GW of renewable energy capacity in June last year with the commissioning of its 92 MW floating solar project at Kayamkulam in Kerala state.