New Delhi: State-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, or Bhel, plans to enter the nuclear reactor components business—in instrumentation, heat exchangers and coolants—on the back of striking tie-ups in the nuclear turbine manufacturing segment.
“The nuclear reactor components business will be in addition to the nuclear turbine and boiler business,” said a senior Bhel executive who did not wish to be named.
“We already have a nuclear shop, which provides components for nuclear research. We are exploring the idea of sourcing technology from Areva SA, Siemens AG and General Electric Co. for components such as heat exchangers and coolants for the nuclear reactors. The plans are in very initial stages.”
The firm’s 50:50 joint venture with the Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd, or NPCIL, whose name is yet to be finalized, has firmed up plans to float tenders by the second week of August for manufacturing turbines with capacities of 700MW, 1,000MW and 1,600MW. “We believe that our tender, calling for expression of interests, will see participation from Alstom SA, General Electric and Siemens. We are also open to giving them equity in the venture if we think it is necessary,” the executive said.
“We already have the capacity to manufacture 700MW boilers. We will also take up engineering, procurement and construction activities for the conventional portion of the nuclear reactors and are eagerly awaiting the final outcome of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal,” he added.
“Balance of plant equipment in the nuclear space is a huge market which the Indian companies can tap in a big way,” said a New Delhi-based power sector analyst, who did not wish to be named. “Companies such as Larsen and Toubro Ltd and Thermax Ltd are already present in this sector.”
Bhel wants to firm up its plans in the nuclear power sector in anticipation of the estimated $14 billion (Rs59,220 crore) order inflow from domestic power utilities such as NTPC Ltd, Tata Power Ltd and Reliance Power Ltd, which have shown interest in setting up nuclear power plants. It will also take up engineering, procurement and construction activities in this segment, the executive said.
In India, only NPCIL—a public sector undertaking under the department of atomic energy—is allowed to build nuclear power plants. This is expected to change with the participation of the private sector- and other state-owned firms once there are changes in the existing legal and policy framework. While Parliament has already approved the nuclear deal, the country needs to get approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. After that, the deal will have to be approved by the US Congress.