Nuclear Power Corpn, BHEL likely to benefit

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such as NTPC Ltd, which plans to set up nuclear capacity of up to 2,000 MW by the year 2017, and equipment supply firm Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) are expected to benefit from the deal in the medium-term.

New Delhi, Nov. 17

With the US Senate approving the long-stalled Indo-US civilian nuclear legislation, the decks have been cleared for opening up the Indian nuclear power business and its access to the international nuclear fuel supply and technology markets.

According to industry players, the immediate beneficiary of the deal could be Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), the state-owned monopoly player currently operating in the nuclear power sector.

Access to higher imports of natural uranium, which NPCIL currently uses to run most of its power plants, is slated to help the company increase power generation at its existing facilities without any additional investment. New entrants such as NTPC, which plans to set up nuclear capacity of up to 2,000 MW by the year 2017, and equipment supply firm Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) are expected to benefit from the deal in the medium-term.

Private sector players waiting in the wings, including Reliance Energy and Tata Power, are also predicted to gain as and when the Government opens up the nuclear generation sector. In all, the share of nuclear generation in the country's overall energy mix currently pegged at 3,310 MW forming less than 3 per cent of the total installed generation capacity of about 1,20,000 MW is projected to shoot up in a big way.

Benefits from the deal

According to NPCIL officials, it is expected that the benefits from the deal, in terms of imports and nuclear technology, are expected to start trickling over the next 18 months or so.

"The plant load factor of existing natural uranium utilising power plants can be increased to 90 per cent from the present average of 68.5 per cent, based on fresh imports of uranium," the official said.

Besides the prospect of US-India nuclear cooperation for the first time in three decades, which would enable India to purchase US nuclear fuel, reactors and related technology, the deal is also expected to open up markets such as Japan, Germany, France and the UK for Indian nuclear players, industry players said.

Equipment major BHEL, which already supplies a bulk of nuclear equipment to NPCIL stations, is also expected to formalise tie-ups for higher rated nuclear sets in the wake of the deal going through. The company has been in talks with several players, including Siemens, Westinghouse, GE Energy, Alstom, Skoda and TurboAtom for a technical tie-up for high-end nuclear equipment but has been waiting for the Indo-US deal to go through before entering into a pact.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 18, 2006)
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