In India to launch a strategic energy partnership, US energy secretary Rick Perry told journalists, “Westinghouse is in the reactor business. Westinghouse is not in the construction business. And that’s where these projects got into trouble previously. Nobody in the world makes better reactors than Westinghouse.
So the issue is — do you want the best reactors in the world? We’ll leave it to you to decide who the constructors are going to be. Probably you will find some good folks right here in India to build the structures. Westinghouse is very much on the verge of having their business issues addressed and going forward.”
On the sidelines, officials involved in the negotiations with the US said they were moving towards the Russia’s ‘Kudankulam model’. This will mean Westinghouse will bring in the reactors, but construction of the N-plant would be left to Nuclear Power Corporation of India limited (NPCIL) and its vendor/supplier companies both in the public and private sectors.
This is close to the template used to build four Kudankulam reactors as well as two new ones in process. Perry said while it is general acknowledge that Westinghouse reactors are the best in the world, it was the company’s involvement in construction that had got them into financial trouble.
Post the restructuring and acquisition by Canadian company Brookfield, Westinghouse will stick to its core competence of making only reactors. “The President of the US is focused on committing to one of the foundations of energy development, i. e. nuclear energy. One of the reasons it’s so important is the reliability issue.”
Officials acknowledged close conversations between Westinghouse and NPCIL on building of the reactors. A commercial contract with NPCIL, they said, can only be signed after Westinghouse’s legal troubles are resolved, which is still a while away. The only hitch, according to officials, is whether NPCIL should be the Indian partner or whether it should be a private player.
Meanwhile, India is focused on reducing the price for the reactors. One of the ways this is sought to be achieved is by working on all six reactors at once to harvest economies of scale and thereby reducing cost.
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