India seeks “viable project proposal” from Westinghouse for AP nuclear plant

The government of India said there was no change in its plans to set up a mega nuclear plant in Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh with bankrupt US technology provider Westinghouse.

However, said the Department of Atomic Energy, the two parties are yet to arrive a “viable project proposal”.

“Discussions are in progress between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and WEC to arrive at a viable project proposal,” DAE said.

“The filing of bankruptcy by WEC and subsequent developments have been noted and factored in the discussions. The project will be set up on emergence of a viable project proposal and accord of administrative approval and financial sanction of the Government.”

Recently, Westinghouse officials maintained that the company will be able to establish the mega plant in India. Two months ago, Westinghouse vice president Krish Rajan said it would be out of the restructuring process early next year and therefore, the bankruptcy won’t impact the India project.

The Kovvada project will be one of the world’s largest, with six reactors of 1208 MW each.

Westinghouse, a subsidiary of Toshiba of Japan, had to seek bankruptcy protection after cost-escalations in two nuclear power plants it is constructing in Georgia and South Carolina.

The DAE said it continued to believe in that the Westinghouse design, called AP1000, is ‘state of the art’ and there was no rethink as far as the technology is concerned.

“Their cost effectiveness in the Indian context would depend on the business models adopted and the current discussions are aimed at arriving at a viable project proposal,” it said.

The government also said that land acquisition for the Kovvada project has been initiated.

“The Government of Andhra Pradesh has accorded permission for advance possession of 1473.16 acres of Government land to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). Of this, about 679 acres of vacant and encumbrance free Government land has been handed over to NPCIL as of November 2017. Action for taking possession of the balance land has also been initiated.”

India currently has about 6,780 MW of nuclear power capability, most of which is built using Russian technology and collaboration.

The country had 5,780 MW of capacity at the beginning of 2017, and added 1,000 MW in the form of the second reactor at Koodankulam, which was built using Russian help.

At present, the country has around 38,000 MW of nuclear power capacity at various stages of development, including some in the negotiation stage.

Including only those that have been approved and are being implemented, the country is supposed to hit the 10,080 MW mark by 2020 and 22,480 MW by 2031.

Nuclear power currently contributes about 3.3% of India’s annual power generation of around 1.3 trillion units of power generated in the country.