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Posts Tagged ‘India’


Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

March 30, 2011
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors

Think China and India are going to blink in their development of nuclear after the Fukushima accident?  Not a chance. 

“You can see rapid growth in nuclear installed capacity in India and China, notwithstanding the events in Fukushima,” Michael Parker, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bernstein, tells Bloomberg. “The cheapest, most easily scaled, cleanest, and most technologically mature source of electricity for these economies is nuclear.”

China made big news in the first few days when government officials announced it would “pause” its efforts to add new reactors in the light of events in Japan. If anything, the comments showed that the Chinese are getting more adept at politics. “Pausing” and “appointing a study commission” are classic dodges of politicians who want to glide past public concern while moving straight ahead with what they were doing.

"China will probably not slow down much, as it wasn’t able to build nukes fast enough before and has a completely different decision-making process when it comes to sitting and dealing with issues,” Mike Thomas, a Hong Kong-based partner at energy consultant The Lantau Group, tells Bloomberg.

India is likely to have the same reaction. “Coal will continue to be the major fuel in the next couple of decades, but the mix of nuclear will increase in Asia,” Nigam Sharma, Singapore-based head of marketing for Asia at Emerson Process Management, tells Bloomberg. “Environment is one of the main drivers, along with demand. And this is where nuclear comes in.”

Indian utilities seem to be of much the same mind. “Now is not the time to enter into a withdrawal syndrome when it comes to India’s nuclear program,” Arup Roy Choudhury, chairman of NTPC, India’s biggest generator of electricity, tells Bloomberg. “If we don’t continue now, we will set ourselves back and have to start all over again.”

So don’t pay any attention to those press releases from anti-nuclear groups celebrating the end of the Nuclear Renaissance in Asia. From all indications, it will be going ahead on schedule.

Read more about it at Bloomberg


Monday, January 17th, 2011

Nuclear Townhall
January 17, 2011

NuScale Power’s president Paul Lorenzini will be one of 24 American company representatives on board next month when Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke visits India on a trade mission.

Also among the passengers will be officials from GE-Hitachi, the international partnership that is trying to revive GE’s sagging nuclear fortunes. “Exports are leading the U.S. economic recovery, spurring future economic growth and creating jobs in America,” Secretary Locke told The Hill. “The business leaders joining me on this mission see the great potential to sell their goods and services to India, helping drive innovation and create jobs in both countries.”

Packing nuclear experts aboard certainly makes sense. Although only a handful of reactors at best will be built in this country over the next decade, Asia is bursting with nuclear construction and India is near the head of the pack.

The Subcontinent plans to add 20 new reactors by 2020 and 43 more by 2032. All these are on the order of 1000 megawatts, but NuScale’s 45-megawatt modular reactor has tremendous promise for rural areas in India’s underdeveloped countryside.

While France, Japan, Korea and Russia now dominate world construction, the U.S. has at least a glimmer of a chance of gaining leverage in India. The opening occurred when the Bush Administration decided to overlook the Non-Proliferation Treaty and strike a deal with India on nuclear technology in 2006, even though India has still not signed the international agreement.

Russia already has a foothold in India, with two Rosatom WER-1000’s scheduled for completion this year. Russia will be supplying the uranium but India will do its own reprocessing, thereby adding to its plutonium stock.

Because the long international boycott blocked its access to world uranium, India has also developed a thorium technology that may lead the world in exploiting this alternate source of nuclear fuel. The country also has a small nuclear desalination plant at Kudankulam and is constructing a 500 MW fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam.

In fact, one thing Secretary Locke may discover is that, in terms of the nuclear market, India has as much to sell us as we have to sell them

Read more about it at the Hill and the Gazette Times


Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Nuclear Townhall

January 5, 2011


Less than a week after China announced a new recycling pathway that will purportedly give it a 3,000-year fuel supply, India has announced the tenfold expansion of its own reprocessing effort.

This Friday public officials will inaugurate a 100-tonne-per-year center that will replace an older 10-tonne facility at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Tarapur. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to preside at the ceremonies.

“The new facility . . would greatly enhance India’s presence in the select club of countries using the closed fuel cycle technology,” reports the Bombay News. “According to a high-ranking official, the new facility would also be used for commercial exploitation in the future.”

India’s step up into full-scale commercial reprocessing now expands the Recycling Club to include Canada, France, Britain, Russia, Japan and China. The only major nuclear countries that are not reprocessing are the United States and South Korea and the Koreans are stalled only because of U.S. non-proliferation issues. The final approval of a MOX facility in South Carolina for recycling weapons material this week, however, indicates that, slowly but surely, the U.S. may be creeping back into the game.

Read more about it at the Bombay News


Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 29, 2010

It may seem at the moment that only the U.S. and Germany are mired in anti-nuclear opposition and that the Nuclear Renaissance is proceeding apace everywhere else in the world.  But maybe we are just ahead of the game and other countries will soon grow their own environmental opposition as well.  That already seems to be happening in India.

"India and France had signed the agreement on the 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project — expected to be the biggest in the world and 10 times that of Chernobyl," reports Zeenews, an Indian online news service, in a comparison that indicates the reporter might not be entirely objective.  "However, the project ran into controversy after many environmentalists questioned the clearances given by the [Ministry of Environment and Forests]. . . . Civil society groups like the Konkan Bachao Samiti have come out in the open with their worries over the radiological safety of the nuclear plant and its impact on the environment. . . . Moreover, as per a report quoted by a news channel, the Jamshetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has revealed that the plant will be a disaster for the region if allowed to be built."

Environmental opposition usually comes from comfortable elites and bureaucrats who prefer controlling things through endless procedure rather than actually building and doing things.  India has plenty of both.  In fact, they are often the same people.  For centuries, the Subcontinent was ruled by a Brahmin class that did little but observe religious ceremonies and collect taxes.  Only ten years ago, the Indian government was so choked with bureaucracy that it required the signature of seven cabinet ministers to start a corporation.  Only in the last decade has India freed itself from the bureaucrats and begun to prosper.  As in the United States, however, environmental regulation could easily be the way that bureaucratic elites once again put their strangling hold on the economy.

Read more at Zee News


Friday, December 24th, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
December 24, 2010


Energy issues are becoming the subject of international debate and with a large Indian population growing in the United States, it’s not surprising to find India’s nuclear development being debated in an Oregon newspaper.
Sriram Khé, an associate professor of geography at Western Oregon University who is currently traveling in India, write this report of how the new complex in the state of Maharashtra will produce 9,900 megawatts, the largest power station in the world. 

Rapid economic growth over the last two decades has resulted in an ever-increasing demand for electricity from India’s businesses and households,” writes Khé in an editorial in the Eugene Register-Guard.  “As with China, most of the electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, which account for about 70 percent of India’s power supply.  However, in a land of a billion-­plus people, there simply isn’t enough for everybody.”

Khé acknowledges that there will eventually be environmental opposition, just as in the United States.  “Despite opposition, the federal minister for the environment, Jairam Ramesh, came out swinging when he announced the clearance for the project: `I know the environmentalists will not be very happy with my decision, but it is foolish romance to think that India can attain high growth rate and sustain the energy needs of a 1.2 billion population with the help of solar, wind, biogas and such other forms of energy. It is paradoxical that environmentalists are against nuclear energy.’

“The Indian government is aware of the issues of global climate change,” he continues.  “At the recently concluded United Nations summit in Cancun, Mexico, Ramesh called for binding commitments in “appropriate legal form.

“However, in a country of argumentative Indians, such commitments have been opposed not only by political parties, but even by environmental groups.”
It’s nice to know that these issues are being discussed all over the world – and that there may be places where people are even more argumentative than they are in the United States.

Read more at the Register-Guard


Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

November 23, 2010
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors

While all eyes have been focused in China’s breakneck development of nuclear technology, India’s rapid progress has slipped under the radar. That came to an end this week as India poured the first concrete on Kakrapar 3 and 4, the country’s first two reactor projects that will be made entirely of indigenous design.

The two 700-megawatt pressurized water units are expected to be operational by 2016. India already has 19 operating reactors producing 4000 MW. Six more are under construction, including two Russian-designed 1000-MW units at Kudankulam and a 500-MW prototype of a fast breeder at Kalpakkam. All these are scheduled to open by the middle of next year, although there may be some delay at the fast breeder.

Finally, a project to build six Areva-supplied European Pressurized Reactors at Jaitapur is expected to gain regulatory approval very soon.

Altogether, India is aiming for 20,000 MW of nuclear capacity by 2020 and 63,000 MW by 2032, which would comprise 25 percent of its electrical capacity. All this in a country that barely had a nuclear program ten years ago.

By moving its own design, India opens the possibility that it may soon join France, Japan, Russia and Korea in marketing its nuclear technology to the developing nations. China has reversed-engineered the Westinghouse AP1000 and is expected to join the field soon.

The United States continues to compete with General Electric touting its boiling-water technology in conjunction with Hitachi.

Two additional factors could give India a unique role in the international market. Because of its scarce uranium resources, India has developed its more abundant thorium. Many nuclear scientists believe thorium – which is twice as abundant as uranium – will ultimately prove to be the price source of nuclear energy.

In addition, the Indians have lovingly nurtured their fast breeder program, recently celebrating its 50th anniversary. With its ability to consume the actinides and other forms of “nuclear waste,” integral fast breeders could eventually offer the world almost unlimited supplies of energy.

If the technology pans out, India could be in the lead. Not bad for a nation that was once described as “Third World.” 

Read more about it at World Nuclear News


Thursday, October 28th, 2010

After partnering with Hitachi, General Electric’s nuclear program, which is still majority American-owned, is going on the offensive.

Yesterday GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy signed a memorandum of understanding with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions to explore the potential of deploying a prototype of its Generation IV PRISM reactor as part of a proposed demonstration of small modular reactor technologies at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site.

The MOU means GEH will be in the game on the increasingly crowded field of small modular reactors. GE’s PRISM hasn’t quite gotten the attention of newcomers such as Hyperion and NuScale (see today’s interview), but as the nation’s oldest and most successful electrical manufacturer, the company is sure to throw some weight around.

At the same time, GEH announced it has signed preliminary agreements in India with Tata Consulting Engineers, Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC), Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and Larsen & Toubro for involvement in India’s nuclear program. Once again, GEH will be joining a crowded field. Japan, Russia, Korea and France are already in the game but India has 20 reactors in the planning stage with 40 more proposed. To date liability considerations have handicapped the operation of private American companies in India, but GEH said it believed these concerns could be resolved.

A leader in the field during the 1970s and 1980s boom in American construction, GE has shown little appetite for nuclear in recent years. Legendary CEO Jack Welsh was reportedly highly skeptical of nuclear, phobic with regard to its potential adverse impacts on GE’s consumer products and disdainful that anyone would ever make any money at it. But with a world revival taking shape and the partnership with Hitachi in place, GE may be poised to be the nuclear comeback kid.

Read more about it at PR Inside and SIFY Finance


Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

American nuclear companies received a big boost when the IAEA announced that India has signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, which would limit liability for nuclear operators. The move opened the door to a possible resolution of the conflict created last month when the Indian Parliament passed a law requiring that nuclear companies assume unlimited liability for their operations in the Subcontinent.

American companies protested they would be unfairly handicapped since they must compete against foreign companies owned by their governments. Companies such as AREVA, EDF and Rosatom either have access to their national treasuries or have sovereign immunity rules that exempt them from liability.

Although India’s signing of the Convention does not completely resolve the problem, it does open the door to a possible resolution. Adopted in 1997, the CSC – whose full name is the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage – is essentially an international Price-Anderson Bill. While requiring nuclear operators to carry their own insurance, it also establishes an international fund for compensating the victims of an extremely large nuclear accident.

At the same time, the Convention sets financial limits on the operators’ liability and time limits on filing damage claims. It also establishes a court for hearing these claims. The system is not yet in effect. It goes into force only when ratified by five nations with at least 400,000 units of nuclear capacity. Although 18 countries, including India, have now signed the agreement, only four – the U.S., Argentina, Morocco and Romania – have actually ratified it. When a fifth nation approves, the Convention will go into effect.

Thus, American companies operating in India still remain open to unlimited liability. But New Delhi’s signature on the pact does open the door to a possible resolution.


Read more at the Hindustan Times


Monday, October 25th, 2010

If “French Nuclear Inc.” is trying to convince the world they can build nuclear plants efficiently, Finland is not the place to look.
The Olkiluoto reactor project, the flagship of Europe’s nuclear renaissance, has become mired in delays and cost overrun so that it now serves as a poster child for anti-nuclear alarmist who claim nuclear energy is an impossibly costly and complex technology beyond human ability to develop and manage.
As AREVA, the French-owned construction giant, tries to compete on an international level, it is telling the world it has learned its lessons.
AREVA is currently in the process of trying to sell two 1,650-megawatt European Pressured Reactors (EPRs) to India, which is looking in all directions in developing its nuclear technology. The Russians are already building two reactors in southern India and have agreed to become a supplier of uranium. The Koreans are also knocking, but Japan has stalled over its demand that India sign the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. Australia has also refused to sell uranium to India, but that seems to have more to do with Green Party pressures at home. American companies are now stalled over India’s civil liability law, which gives an advantage to government-owned companies.
Secure in its liability exposure, AREVA is telling the Nuclear Power Corporation of India that it can meet its responsibilities on schedule – even though costs at Olkiluoto have ballooned from $3 billion euros to $5.7 billion and construction time has lengthened from four to eight years. The delays and cost overruns are now the subject of a bitter dispute between AREVA and Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, the Finnish national utility.
AREVA argues that delays by the Finnish government in approving engineering designs has been the main problem at Olkiluoto. It points to Flamanville, in northern France, as a better indication of its capabilities. Yet cost overruns at that site have also added 1.3 billion euros to the original 4 billion project and construction is already delayed only two years beyond original estimates.
The French say they have an improved playbook and can do better. Indian officials say they may be two weeks away from signing an agreement.

Read more at IStock Analyst


Thursday, October 14th, 2010

“The shock of recognition” is what they call it when a country or region wakes up to realize it is developing its own culture and starting to lead the world in something. That’s what’s happening in Asia right now with nuclear energy.
Delegates from a dozen countries who assembled in Mahabalipuram, India this week at the four-day Asian Nuclear Prospects Conference suddenly discovered they no longer have to look to the United States and Europe for leadership.
“ China has 12 reactors in operation and 23 reactors are under construction. India has 19 reactors in operation four under advanced stage of construction and four have been recently launched,” Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan told the gathering. He also noted that Bangladesh , Hong Kong , Indonesia , Jordon , Malaysia , Philippines , United Arab Emirates , Singapore , Thailand , Vietnam and others are also launching their own nuclear programs.
(To show how fast this is happening, all this is reported in a journal called Coal Geology.)
This follows a classic pattern, where countries that lag the world in technology import it for awhile and then suddenly discover that they can do it themselves – sometimes even better. China and Japan have followed this pattern with Western manufacturing and India has done it with software and information technology. Now all are about to follow suit in nuclear.
India is particularly enthusiastic. S.K. Jain of Nuclear Power Corporation said that by March 2012 India will launch work on 12 reactors. Minister of Technology Chavan said India may soon be able to export nuclear electricity.
What this all means to Europe and the United States , where nuclear development seems to be drowning in inertia, can only be implied. But “the last shall be first and the first shall be last” is an observation as old as the Bible.

Read more about it at Coal Geology