Energizing the private sector

Energizing the private sector
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First Published: Fri, Aug 01 2008. 12 34 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Aug 01 2008. 12 34 AM IST
India’s Power generation equipment and capital goods manufacturers are euphoric after the government’s victory in the trust vote in parliament last week. They now eagerly awaits changes to the Atomic Energy Act so that they too can participate in the civilian nuclear power program in India.
At present, India has a nuclear power generation capacity of 4,120 MW but its 17 reactors are facing a fuel crunch with uranium in short supply. Existing plants are now operating at 50% capacity due to the lack of fuel.
Even after the deal, the contribution of nuclear energy to India’s total power requirement is expected to go up from 3% to 6% in the next 25 years. While by no means significant, it will still address part of the energy need estimated at 800,000 mega watt by 2032. It helps that this will be clean energy, which will not add to the daunting environmental problems faced by India.
Experts feel this kind of nuclear power generation is not possible without private participation. Former power secretary RV Shahi said, “One power corporation totally under government control—Nuclear Power Corporation—will not be adequate…we need to depend in a significant way also on the private sector investment for developing nuclear power capacity.”
Private players such as Tata Power Ltd, Reliance Power Ltd, Essar group, GMR Group and Larsen and Toubro Ltd may find themselves playing a much bigger role in providing nuclear power, going beyond the usual supply of equipment and services.
But that will depend on amendments to the Atomic Energy Act, which enables only companies with a 51% government stake to enter the sector.
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First Published: Fri, Aug 01 2008. 12 34 AM IST