NTPC can only be a minority partner in setting up plants

NTPC can only be a minority partner in setting up plants

New Delhi: State-run NTPC Ltd can only be a minority stakeholder in a proposed venture with Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd, or NPCIL, to build nuclear power plants on safety and strategic considerations, government officials said.

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b468a13c-a35a-11dd-b198-000b5dabf613.flv“NTPC will remain a minority partner. It is very clear that NPCIL will have to be in the driver’s seat due to fuel supply, safety and strategic considerations," said Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for power and commerce.

India’s Atomic Energy Commission, too, is of the view that NTPC can jointly set up nuclear power projects with NPCIL, where the latter will hold majority stake. Currently, only NPCIL, a public sector undertaking of the department of atomic energy, is mandated to set up such plants.

NTPC’s chairman and managing director R.S Sharma declined to comment on the issue citing ongoing discussions, merely saying, “We will enter the (nuclear) sector."

Power secretary Anil Razdan, however, said, “NTPC will have to go as a minority partner for its nuclear joint venture. While NPCIL has huge experience in the nuclear sector, NTPC has vast experience in project management and generation."

The country’s largest power generation firm has been lobbying for a role bigger than that of an investor for its nuclear plans and aims to build two such projects of 2,000MW each.

After the signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the atomic power sector is expected to be opened up to private and public sector firms.

“As long as there is no exclusivity condition that prevents NTPC from independent development or other JVs, even being an investor will still be of some value to NTPC," said Anish De, chief executive of Mercados Asia, an energy consulting firm. “However, given that private developers have been implicitly encouraged till now, a security threat perception from NTPC defies logic."

Private-sector firms such as Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Tata Power Ltd, Vedanta Resources Plc. and Reliance Power Ltd have shown interest in building atomic power plants.

Overseas nuclear power technology providers such as Alstom SA, Areva SA, Siemens AG and General Electric Co. are eyeing Indian orders estimated to be worth $14 billion (Rs70,000 crore).

Out of India’s installed power generation capacity of at least 140,000MW, nuclear energy accounts for only 4,120MW. NPCIL plans to create additional generating capacity of 3,160MW by 2012.

According to KPMG’s India Energy Outlook report, the department of atomic energy hopes to build 250,000MW nuclear capacity by 2050 to meet power requirements.