A keen golfer and a seasoned engineer-manager, Kishore Jayaraman is the CEO of diversified giant General Electric’s GE Energy for the India region.
In an interview, Kishore discussed about his company’s plans for the promising power market in India. He also touched upon the increasing gas availability in India that could spur demand for gas turbines, most of which are currently being imported. Excerpts.
Is it the US government’s policy of creating jobs back home preventing GE Energy to set up a manufacturing base for power equipment in India?
I cannot comment on the first part but in reality we are very open to having manufacturing base in India as also localisation. In fact, for wind turbines, we have two plants — one at Chennai and the other at Pune.
As far as our gas turbines business go, we handle the market in India through two channels. One is through direct supplies by GE from the US to our customers here or we sell to the government projects through our joint venture with BHEL, which also makes our turbines. GE supplies the core components and BHEL packages it.
With improving gas availability, large number of gas-based power projects will be set up. Is it not a reason enough to set up a manufacturing facility for gas turbines in India?
We still have not firmed up any plans for having a manufacturing facility for gas turbines in India. But at the same time, we are watching the space and as we enter into the 12th plan, more clarity is expected to emerge on how India finally goes about its gas allocation policy for new power projects. If you look at it today, most of our competitors in this space (Siemens, Mitsubushi, etc) are also making supplies of gas turbines directly. So this is a market where most of the gas turbines are imported, there is nobody who does the gas turbines locally. So it really does not matter if you are getting it from the overseas market. Unlike others, GE has a tie-up with BHEL. In future, if it becomes really important that we have to go locally, we can do it through our tie-up with BHEL.
How about having a steam turbine manufacturing facility?
Again, we do not have any plans yet but steam turbines is a different ball game altogether.
Here you have five players in India serving this market and we did not have a steam turbine product to serve this market. So in the last two years GE has spent a lot of money to develop the supercritical steam turbine. Now that we have a very efficient product and we are trying to figure out how to position this product into the market. We are looking at all possibilities including partnerships or going on our own by putting up a plant.
Don’t you have plans to pick up equity stakes in power projects or do EPC projects on your own in India?
EPC jobs require a lot of more core competency. We are more experienced on the product side and so we want to focus there. Our other company GE Capital has bought equity in some power projects.
When will you unfold your nuclear plans?
We are waiting on the inter-governmental agreement and the liability law that needs to be sorted out. We are very hopeful that a clarity on these issues will emerge soon as both governments are actively involved into discussions on this front. Once we have the framework agreement in place, we are very enthusiastic about participating in this sector. Once all this is clear, we will firm up our plans on whether we would be doing it on our own or in partnerships.