Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) secures Rs 736 crore order for nuclear steam generators

While reiterating that India has no plans to allow the country’s private or non-governmental sector into nuclear power generation, the Indian government, however, also clarified earlier this month that there are no restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI) participation in the nuclear industry for manufacturing of equipment and providing other supplies for nuclear power plants and related facilities.

Responding to a query in the Lower House of Parliament, the Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh said that although India’s current FDI policy puts atomic energy in the list of prohibited sectors, there is, however, “no restriction on foreign direct investment in the nuclear industry for manufacturing of equipment and providing other supplies for nuclear power plants and related other facilities.”

He also said the present government has amended the law some years back to enable the state-run operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (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 – National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and the National Aluminium Company (NALCO).

In response to another question, the Minister said that the government had 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 (PHWR) and two light water reactors (LWRs) with Russian cooperation.

India’s first totally indigeneously buit nuclear reactor – the second unit at Kakarapar Atomic Power Project in Gujarat state achieved criticality in July this year, becoming the first in the world to do so amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu state, is being constructed in collaboration with the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, who are the equipment suppliers and technical consultants for the project, Two 1,000 MW units each at Kudankulam are already connected to the grid, while units 3 and 4 are in various stages of construction. Two more 1,000 MW LWRs – units 5 and 6 – will come up at the KNPP.

India currently has 22 reactors with a capacity of 6,780 MW in operation in the country. In addition, 9 reactors, with a total capacity of 6,700 MW are presently under construction. These 22 operating nuclear reactors contribute to around 1.8 percent of India’s total energy mix, which is far lower than the Department of Atomic Energy’s vision outlined earlier of producing at least 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020, and at least 48,000 MW by 2030.