GEH Inks Agreements with India to Develop Multi-Unit ABWR Power Station

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) on Monday signed separate agreements with India’s state-run companies Nuclear Power Corp. of India (NPCIL) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) to prepare for construction of a potentially massive advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) power station in that country.

Because the Indian government allows for up to 10,000 MW to be built at specific nuclear sites, the potential station could house as many as six or seven ABWRs, Timothy Richards, managing director of energy policy for GE in Washington, D.C., told POWERnews.

India needs all the capacity it can get. To sustain a recent economic boom and overcome critical power supply shortages of as much as 15% in peak demand, the country is looking to expand its nuclear generation capacity by more than tenfold over the next two decades, from 4.1 GW today to 60 GW by 2032.

Per the memoranda of understanding with NPCIL, which operates all 17 of India’s existing reactors, and BHEL, the manufacturing arm of India’s Ministry for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, GEH said it will begin planning for the necessary resources in manufacturing and construction management for the multiple-unit.

NPCIL meanwhile said in a press release Monday that it will now start discussions with GEH on the “techno-commercial aspects” of the ABWR. The company is currently in similar talks with Westinghouse Electric Co. for its AP-1000 reactors, Russia’s Atomstroyexport for VVER-1000 reactors, and France’s AREVA for EPRs.

Though the new agreements lay the foundation for cooperation between GEH and the two Indian companies, India and the U.S.—which signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in October 2008—must first iron out some elementary issues, Richards said.

“India has stated it recognizes the importance of establishing an adequate nuclear liability regime and that it intends to comply with the multilateral convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC),” he said. ”We understand that India is working on the law at this time.”

At the same time, the country must finalize discussions with other governments on several issues, including a listing of facilities to be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

With regard to the potential ABWR plant, Richards said that India has not yet selected a site. Because construction costs are site-specific, until site selection is final, the company cannot begin negotiations for a project.

The General Electric Co. built India’s first nuclear plant, the Tarapur 1 & 2 boiling water reactor station, during the 1960s—before a trade embargo was imposed on the country in 1974 because it tested a nuclear weapon.

But last year, the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted the 34-year-old ban, allowing—despite India’s refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty—trade with India’s nuclear power sector, all of which is federally owned.

For more on the power industry in India, look for the upcoming feature in the May issue of POWER.

Source: GE, POWERnews

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