Additional turbine contract for BHEL, Alstom
A contract worth over $300 million for the supply of turbine generators for two new units at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP) has been awarded to a consortium between India’s Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and France’s Alstom.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) awarded the contract – worth over INR 19,060 million ($343 million) – to the consortium for the supply and installation of the turbine generator packages for RAPP units 7 and 8, construction of which began last year in Rawatbhata, Rajasthan. Alstom said that its share in the contract will be some INR 7000 million ($126 million), while BHEL will take the remainder.
Under the contract, BHEL and Alstom will together manufacture and supply the steam turbines, while the manufacture and supply of the complete generator, moisture separator reheater and condenser – including the erection and commissioning of the turbine generator package – will be undertaken by BHEL. The Indian company will manufacture the steam turbine components based on Alstom designs.
Under a separate contract from NPCIL, state-owned BHEL will supply and install the instrumentation and controls for the turbine island secondary circuit for the two indigenously designed 700 MWe pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) units.
Commenting on the RAPP 7 and 8 contract, Alstom said: “This contract marks Alstom’s growing contribution in the nuclear energy business in India after the award of the contract for two 700 MW units for the Kakrapar 3 and 4 nuclear power plant in Gujarat a year ago.”
BHEL entered into a memorandum of understanding in February 2011 with NPCIL and Alstom for the creation of a joint venture for the supply of the conventional island for nuclear power plants of 700 MWe and above.
In April 2011, NPCIL awarded an INR 16,000 million ($288 million) contract to a consortium of BHEL and Alstom to cover the supply and installation of turbogenerator packages for Kakrapar 3 and 4, India’s first 700 MWe PHWRs.
In May 2010, Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) was awarded an INR 8880 million ($160 million) contract to undertake the main plant civil works of RAPP 7 and 8. HCC has constructed all six existing units at RAPP, which are also PHWRs of varying sizes, the first of which began operating in 1973 and the latest in early 2010. First concrete for RAPP units 7 and 8 was poured in July 2011. The units are scheduled to begin commercial operation in June and December 2016, respectively.
Contracts currently being undertaken by BHEL for NPCIL include supplying eight steam generator packages for one of the new Kakrapar units and another 700 MWe plant to be built at Rajasthan. It is also general contractor for the complete conventional island for the 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor being built at Kalpakkam.
Can India’s aggressive nuclear newbuild plans power ahead?
India’s power minister Sushilkumar Shinde has announced a commitment to expand the country’s energy base, with nuclear power as part of the plans expected to contribute 5,300 MW to the proposal to increase energy capacity by 88,000 MW.
Between August this year up to the end of 2016 the vision is to have seven more units in operation. They will be at Kudankulam with Unit 1 to be in operation in August 2012 and Unit 2 March in 2013, both will be producing 1000MW, and in Kakrapar units 3 and 4 will be two 700 MW power stations, unit 3 set for the middle 2016 and unit 4 to be in action by the end of 2016.
Joining them will be two more units at Rajasthan, where units 7 and 8 are being designed to power 700 MW, it is hoped that they will be in action in the middle of 2016, and at the end of the same year respectively.
In addition there will be a Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor to be constructed in Kalpakkam, which should be fully functioning some time next year.
A protocol to expand nuclear capability at Kudankulam, for two more units christened 3 and 4, has been signed with Russia that will extend export credit worth up to $3.4bn. This will finance 85 per cent of the project funding works, supplies and services for the construction of the units.
“The Significance of the recent Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Federation is that it stipulates the amount of credit and rate of interest and time period of repayment in connection with construction and fuel supply for the proposed Kudankulam 3 and 4.“ Explains a spokesperson for India’s Department for Atomic Energy (DAE).
“They will be building the two units just like they did in the case of Kudankulam1 and 2. The final details about what they will bring from their country and what will be manufactured locally in India are being worked out.”
India’s current nuclear set up comprises of 22 units, that reside at Rajasthan, Madras, Kaiga, Naraora Kakrapaer and Tarapur atomic stations.
There are 20 units which are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR), with two Boiling Water Reactors that are used at Tarapur, that were India’s first two reactors built in 1969.
Five years on from then was a watershed, as up to that point India had been shunned by the global community and subjected to nuclear supply sanctions.
Since 1974 there have been 17 PHWR’s built, and the DAE point out that in future only 700MW plants will be permitted, a jump up from the previous 540MW, and the original output of 220MW.
Legal problems to get in the way?
The capability to build PHWR’s was massively boosted by the amount of uranium that is now available to India, with the opening up of nuclear commerce and the joining of hands with foreign partners due to the end of their isolation.
Mark Hibbs, a senior associate in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program, assesses India’s nuclear programme and prospects: “India has a track record over the past several decades of setting—and failing to meet—ambitious goals for adding nuclear megawatts of installed capacity to its power grid. India has experienced a steep learning curve in managing its nuclear construction projects. Today, India is building somewhat larger reactors, at a faster rate, and with fewer construction bottlenecks, but in coming years the nuclear share of total electricity generation in India will likely remain under 10 per cent.”
He continues: “Since 2008, after nuclear supply sanctions were lifted, theoretically creating access to foreign markets, India has set up major projects with vendors in France, Russia, and the US. In practice, however, most of these projects are stymied by legal problems because India will not categorically assign the liability for a nuclear accident to the Indian owner-operator of nuclear power plants built with foreign partners.”
Social impact of energy security
The social impact of India increasing its energy capacity cannot be underestimated, especially as the World Bank estimates 300 million people are still starved of regular electricity.
The DAE is determined that nuclear energy plays a significant role in enabling electricity to be more widely available, and has plans to eventually create 60,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity, although without setting a clear date when this would happen.
Nuclear’s potential importance is amplified as OECD figures reveal that from between 2003-09, renewable energy has fallen as part of India’s energy base by nearly 7 per cent.
Since the mid-noughties the level of economic growth has turned India into one of the major nascent economic powers in the world. For the first quarter of 2012 the Central Statistical Organisation shows that growth has fallen to 5.3 per cent, it is maybe a figure that the Eurozone would lose an arm for, but India’s growth has tumbled from 9.4 per cent two years ago.
The envisaged future growth will need an effective and modern energy base, where nuclear energy should be able to proliferate its global expansion and help keep a stabilised baseload power to a country with ever demanding energy security.