Indian American plans to do his share for ‘Make in India’ campaign

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Kris Singh

NEW YORK – Indian-American entrepreneur Kris Singh wants the Indian government to help him with his initiative to create fast track mini nuclear reactors, claiming that they are economical and could be constructed within two years.

The SMR LLC and Holtec International founder and CEO, recently opened up a 160,000-square-foot office building in their 50-acre campus in Camden, New Jersey and the state government has awarded him $260 million to develop an SMR construction facility there, reported PTI.

“The new generation Small Nuclear Reactor uses light water technology to produce 160 MW and is the future of nuclear energy reactor because of its unconditional safety and economy,” Singh said, adding that the new SMR reactors require only few acres of land and because they are air cooled, they can be put in a desert, unlike traditional reactors, which require huge amounts of water for cooling purposes.

But constructing each of these small nuclear reactors can cost about $1 billion however, if made in India; the cost could be far less.

‘The Indian labor is cheaper…so the construction cost would be less. You should reasonably expect between 20 to 30 per cent reduction in cost as we go forward,” he exclaimed mentioning that the company has already written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the SMR 160, offering to have it constructed in India under the Make in India program.

“You can build these reactors in large numbers and distribute them across the country,” he said arguing that such reactors can be the best solution to addressing the energy problem of India.

Asserting that it is better to put five of these modular reactors than a large 800 MW reactor, Singh said his company is being considered for both the Canadian and British SMR program and is at the forefront of the SMR technology adding that it will be much cheaper in price per MW and will be much faster to build, said reports.

“We have also started Holtec Arabia for SMR deployment in the middle east countries. Many of these SMR parts will be manufactured in India and exported to Middle East,” he added.

Holtec Asia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Holtec International, recently finished constructing a facility in Dahej, Gujarat to develop components of Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR-160), noting that the $100 million project is just a small beginning of his long-term plan of manufacturing in India.

Singh said this facility would initially export the critical nuclear facility components including air cooled condensers, spent fuel storage and others to the U.S. and other countries and that his company expects the export to cost $400 million in a year or so.

According to Singh, the proposed SMR 160 reactors are much safer than Large Nuclear Reactors when it comes to an earthquake, a tsunami or even a terrorist attack as the nuclear activity in their SMR is underground, “in case of any disaster, it shuts itself for indefinite period, thus we call it walk away and unconditional safe.”

Sanjay Gupta, SMR executive director, said that big reactors are a thing of past, “safety issues, excessive costs and untimely completion led to the financial crisis and bankruptcy of the makers of big reactors.”

“I can foresee our small nuclear reactors being used as the cheapest and most reliable source of green energy worldwide,” added Gupta who has been in talks with the Indian government about this initiative. “We have already started the ground work in few countries including UAE, Canada, and Ukraine in this direction.”

Holtec also has a back log of orders of $6 billion and it expects around $470 million exports over next year from its Gujarat site.

“We plan to invest around 2 Billion Dollars in South East Asia Corridor next few years and some of this can be in India,” Gupta continued.

Singh mentioned that even though solar energy is another alternative renewable energy option, small nuclear reactors like SMR-160 are a more viable and economic option saying “solar definitely has the future, but solar is a…you know it’s not a reliably constant source of power. If the sun is not shining the power disappears.”

Singh came to the United States more than 40 years ago and has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

He also has over 70 patents to his name along with one textbook and numerous symposia volumes and over 120 nuclear plants around the world employ Holtec’s systems and equipment in safety-significant applications.

He has also donated money to the Nanotechnology Center at University of Pennsylvania, which has been named after him and recently completed building 700 toilets in Bihar.