India Closing in on Westinghouse Deal to Build 6 Nuclear Reactors

India expects to seal a $150 billion dollar nuclear power programme contract with Westinghouse Electric Co.

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The logo of the American company Westinghouse is pictured at the World Nuclear Exhibition 2014, the trade fair event for the global nuclear energy sector, in Le Bourget, near Paris. (Photo: Reuters)

India expects to seal a contract with Westinghouse Electric Co LLC to build six nuclear reactors in the first half of next year, a senior government official said, in a sign its $150 billion dollar nuclear power programme is getting off the ground.

The proposed power plant in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat will accelerate India’s plans to build roughly 60 reactors, which would make it the world’s second-biggest nuclear energy market after China.

The United States signed a pact with India in 2008, opening the way for nuclear commerce that had previously been stymied due to New Delhi’s nuclear weapons programme and shunning of the global Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). But hopes that reactor makers would get billions of dollars of new business evaporated after India adopted a law in 2010 giving the state-run operator Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) the right to seek damages from suppliers in the event of an accident.

India is also in rigorous talks with other countries to increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 megawatts (MW) by 2032, from 5,780 MW, as part of a broader push to move away from fossil fuels, cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the dangerous effects of climate change:

  • Later this week, India is expected to offer Russia a site in its southern state of Andhra Pradesh to build six reactors, on top of the six it is already expected to build in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
  • India expects Japan, which supplies components used in most reactors, to ratify an agreement some time in the second quarter of 2016 to support its nuclear programme.
  • French nuclear company Areva, which uses Japanese components, also has a deal to build six reactors in India, although restructuring within that company was likely to delay construction until 2017.

The idea was to allow the Americans and the French, India’s two close partners, to catch up with the Russians in its nuclear sector, the official said.

“This is a train that is moving soon,” the official said.

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