Though China has publicly been less than enthusiastic about India’s nuclear ambitions, Chinese firm Dongfang Electric Corp. is keeping a close eye on the fate of the country’s bilateral agreement with the US for civilian nuclear cooperation, which could, if it goes through, open up the market for nuclear energy in India.
“We are keenly observing the ongoing Indo-US civil nuclear talks. Once the agreement is inked, the sector will be opened up. We are waiting for that to happen and are interested in providing equipment to Indian companies who would set up nuclear power projects for civilian purpose,” said Wen Ya, Dongfang’s chief representative in India.
The company is China’s largest manufacturer of power generation equipment.
Industry analysts who asked not to be identified because of commercial considerations, said that firms from the US would be given the “first preference for supplying equipment and technology”. “On the second rung are the French and Russian companies. In such a situation, the Chinese firms will have a tough time as it will not be a question of cost competitiveness as the negotiations will be on a government-to-government level,” they added.
Dongfang, however, is looking to exploit the opportunity that is likely to emerge once companies such as NTPC Ltd and Tata Power begin to productionize their plans to set up nuclear power generation projects.
The US’ General Electric Corp., and France’s AREVA and EDS are among the leaders in manufacturing nuclear power equipment.
Dongfang manufactures equipment for large hydroelectric power stations, thermal power stations and nuclear power stations and has a current manufacturing capacity of 31,000MW per year.
It also bids for contracts for setting up power generation stations and has contracts for setting up power projects in over 10 countries.
The company has the capacity to manufacture generators, half-speed steam turbine and nuclear islands—all equipment used in nuclear power generation—with a 1,000MW capacity.
Indian power-equipment major Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd is readying itself for competition and has initiated talks with two overseas companies for the technology transfer to facilitate manufacturing units of 1,000MW capacity and beyond for the upcoming nuclear power projects.
According to current guidelines in India, atomic energy is exclusively reserved for the Union government.
Nuclear-power plants can be set up only by the Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd, a public sector undertaking under the department of atomic energy.
But participation of the private sector and other state-owned firms is expected to increase with changes in the existing legal and policy framework once the civilian nuclear partnership between India and the US is ratified by both governments.