NEW DELHI :
African countries such as Ghana are looking to buy nuclear power plants from India and such deals will be concluded swiftly if New Delhi extends soft loans to these nations, said Ravi B. Grover, Homi Bhabha National Institute chair, department of atomic energy.
Grover, who is also a member of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, pointed out that Russia, which was building six power plants in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu with a combined capacity of more than 6,000 megawatts (MW), had extended a loan to India for the construction of the units.
“They (Russia) are giving a major part of the capital cost as a soft loan," Grover said in a panel discussion at Mint’s annual Energyscape event in New Delhi on Monday.
“If we want to export reactors to Africa, those countries —Ghana is one of them which is interested—will look for that kind of capital as a soft loan from India," Grover said. “So any supplier, unless he is able to provide soft loans, will not be able to attract potential customers. So there are issues that are not only technology issues but also technology-policy issues that the government has to look at," he said.
A number of African countries are said to be interested in the progress of India’s civilian nuclear power programme because climate change has had an adverse effect on their conventional hydroelectric power generation capacity, which has mainly depended on the Nile, Niger, Congo and Zambezi rivers.
While hydroelectric power generation has witnessed a decline, leading to lower supply of electricity in African nations, India’s pressurized heavy water reactor’s (PHWR’s) unit size is well suited to meet their small demand load.
According to Grover, one of the problems bedevilling the civil nuclear power sector globally has been the retention of manpower. “Given that some countries are giving up the nuclear power option in the wake of a tsunami crippling a nuclear power plant in the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Indian government had adopted the right strategy given that it had approved building 10 plants in “fleet mode," Grover said.