‘Waiver offers opportunity for nuclear exports’

The waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group provides a great opportunity for India to become a major exporter of critical and non-critical nuclear components to both the developed and developing countries.

“There is limited manufacturing capacity in the world today,” said S.K. Jain, Chairman and Managing Director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

India already has 100 per cent capacity to manufacture all components of a Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR), he pointed out.

In the case of the Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR), India has the capacity to manufacture 40 per cent of the critical components, 50 per cent capacity to manufacture turbines, generators and other auxiliaries, and about 80 per cent capacity with respect to other components.

“But the real attraction is the lower cost when reactors are manufactured here. It will be 20-25 per cent cheaper when they are manufactured in India,” Mr. Jain said.

With more than 30 countries seriously looking at the PWRs, the opportunity for India to become a manufacturing hub was promising. Developing countries were looking at small and medium-size reactors.

“We do not have the capacity to manufacture the reactor vessel and other critical components for a PWR. But we can fabricate them by importing some parts,” he said.

“We jointly assessed our capability and found that we can upgrade our facilities to manufacture all the parts for a 1000-1600 MW PWRs with proper technological tie-ups,” he said.

The joint assessment involved NPCIL and companies such as Areva of France and General Electric of the U.S.

No such import of any parts was required for the manufacture of PHWR reactors, as the Indian industry was fully equipped to manufacture all components.

“We are a very strong contender for small (300 MW) and medium (600-700 MW) size reactors. India is the only country in the world to have a vibrant industry to manufacture a PHWR. So there is a big potential for us,” he said.

Word of caution

But with the possibility of enriching plutonium when the PHWRs are used, India should be more careful to which country it was exporting. “It would be safe to export these reactors to countries that have no existing nuclear programme.”

Mr. Jain said supplying reactors to developing countries alone would not suffice.

“We should have joint tie-ups with fuel supplying countries for the programme to take off.” Such a tie-up may not be required when countries already arranged for fuel supply.