Nuvia India, part of the international Nuvia Group specialising in nuclear products and services, sees a big role in India’s civil nuclear projects. The company is doing pioneering work in construction, engineering, nuclear R&D, design, build, operations, radiation protection and decommissioning of nuclear power plants. Minu Singh, in an exclusive interview with Sandeep Menezes, talks about Nuvia’s core competence in the Indian nuclear energy sector.
There is concern among foreign nuclear energy equipment vendors about unlimited liability pertaining to Indian law. (This interview was conducted before Prime Minister Modi and President Obama, last month, reached an understanding on civil nuclear liability for civil nuclear cooperation between India and USA).
It has not affected us much because we are more on the service side. But yes, we were looking for an opportunity in one of the nuclear power plants and wanted a UK-based company to support us on that. But that company was not ready to work in India because the liability was not clearly defined. Therefore, the undercurrents are being felt in the industry.
But it has not affected Nuvia India. We recently got an order from Bhavini (Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd) for their reactor where we are undertaking supply, installation and commissioning of Passive Fire protection system.
How much growth do you foresee in the nuclear energy sector in India?
We are optimistic about the nuclear energy sector and are looking at the last Planning Commission figures because nothing has changed. Therefore, being on the service side rather than the nuclear product side, we assume that that there will be growth.
There is increasing resistance to nuclear plants with everyone wanting energy but none wanting a nuclear power plant in their backyard.
You should ask the common people of Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu) of how they feel now that they have power in their homes because the 1,000-MW plant has gone live.
How much is the servicing segment in the overall Indian nuclear energy sector?
While the plant is under operation, I would assume that 500 MW may be outsourcing roughly around Rs.50 crore to 100 crore of work every year. But also remember that the Indian market is very volatile.
Before multinational companies came to India, how was nuclear power plant servicing done?
The nuclear power plant service perception in India itself is very different. Right now the operational power plants do lot of service outsourcing; in fact, even manpower outsourcing is done. Their people are responsible for the work to be done; it’s only the sub-contractor’s labour that comes in.
This means that nuclear power plant outsourcing is basically only manpower in India.
The way Nuvia works in Europe is that, we own the responsibility of the service also; I mean the entire work. We discuss with clients the service that has to be done, in which way and what results are expected. That has to change in India but it has still not happened.
Is Nuvia open to the Indian way of servicing nuclear power plants?
We are not bidding for anything and everything that comes our way. We are only bidding in areas wherein we have the requisite competencies. If we win that then we can suggest other things. I don’t think that they will not listen to things that can help improve their productivity and efficiencies. It’s just that they are governed by their terms and conditions.
With safety being a big concern with nuclear energy plants, would L1 be the most important criteria in contracts?
Yes, they still give priority to L1 but prior to that there is a technical qualification. The companies that are allowed to bid are already technically qualified. Only if the bidders are technically qualified do they get the bid papers.
Who are some of Nuvia India’s main competitors?
Unfortunately we don’t have many world class service provider in the country.
What is the growth forecast for Nuvia India?
This year we will be at breakeven. This is a big achievement for a startup company like us in India. In the next two years, we hope to achieve a 20 per cent growth in India.
We are a new entrant in the Indian market. One of our advantages is that we are recognised as a technologically good service provider. We have a facility in Delhi wherein we do the calibration of Radiation Monitoring instruments.
We are getting more and more orders nowadays and our clients are saying that our service is “fantastic.” Yes, we have a challenge in terms of pricing but then when we get the feedback that your service is good, that pays off.
We are still growing at a slow pace in India because if we win one order, we lose another five. It’s just that at certain places we don’t agree on the price although we give better service.