With Indian lawmakers passing the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill last week, the country’s nuclear power sector is likely to take off.
Two state-run firms, Nuclear Power Corporation of India, which built and runs all 19 of India’s nuclear plants, and Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam, set up to focus on fast breeder reactors, as well as private companies have been waiting for this moment.
India’s nuclear plants together produce only 4,560 MW, of the 160,000 MW the country generates. But by 2020, India hopes to produce 20,000 MW of nuclear energy and 40,000 MW by 2035. By 2050, it hopes nuclear energy will constitute a quarter of the total.
“It’s a big opportunity for Indian companies,” says Sudhinder Thakur, executive director of corporate planning at the Nuclear Power Corporation.
“Foreign firms will surely involve Indian companies in setting up the reactors.”
State-run firms Indian Oil Corporation, National Thermal Power Corporation and Bharat Heavy Electricals have ambitious plans in this sector. “We should not underestimate firms who have kept India’s nuclear plants going all these years. They have a big opportunity. Now just 30 countries have nuclear power plants. More will want this clean energy and might look to India for help,” says an official at the Department of Atomic Energy.
Private Indian companies are also moving in fast. Larsen & Toubro has a $463 million venture with National Power Corporation to build a plant at Hazira in Gujarat for the domestic and export markets to make nuclear forgings. L&T has been supplying components to both pressurised heavy water reactors and fast breeder reactors in India. It already has entered into agreements with many firms abroad. Hindustan Construction Co has its imprint on many of India’s existing nuclear plants.