Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited announced that it has won a “prestigious order” from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) for the supply of 32 reactor header assemblies for India’s indigenously-developed 700MWe pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) to be set up at four different locations.
This was the first order placed under NPCIL’s Fleet Mode Procurement programme and will significantly boost domestic manufacturing.
India’s government had approved fleet mode implementation of ten 700MWe PHWRs in 2017 at an estimated cost of $16.3bn. BHEL said it has been associated with all the three stages of the Indian Nuclear Power Programme as the primary supplier to NPCIL for reactor headers, steam turbines, steam generators, motors and other equipment. To date, all the reactor header assemblies for 700MWe PHWR projects in India have been supplied by BHEL. Currently, some 75% of PHWR based nuclear plants in India are equipped with BHEL-supplied turbine and generator sets.
The ten planned reactors are units 5&6 at the Kaiga NPP in Karnataka state, units 1&2 at the Chutka NPP in Madhya Pradesh, units 1-4 at Mahi Banswara NPP in Rajasthan and units 1&2 at Gorakhpur NPP in Haryana state. Four 700MWe PHWRs are already under construction: Kakrapar 3&4 in Gujurat, and Rajasthan 7&8 in Rajasthan.
India’s PHWRs are a domestic design based on the Candu type reactor which uses heavy water and natural uranium but which do not require a reactor pressure vessel (RPV) - India does not have the manufacturing capability to produce the large forgings needs to make RPVs.
India has focused on self sufficiency in its nuclear development since its first nuclear weapons test in 1974, after which it was excluded from international nuclear trade until its agreement with the USA in 2008. Two small Canadian (Candu) PHWRs at began operation at Rajasthan nuclear plant in 1972 and 1980. Subsequently India constructed 14 200MWe PHWRs at five sites (Kaiga, Kakrapur, Madras, Narora and Rajasthan) as well as two 490MWe PHWRs at Tarapur.
India also has two small boiling water reactors built in the 1960s by GE operating at Tarapur, as well as two Russian supplied VVER-1000 units operating at Kudankulam, which were connected to the grid in 2013 and 2016, with two others under construction and more planned.