home » Featured » India‚Äôs new nuclear build: coming in from the cold

India’s new nuclear build: coming in from the cold

India’s struggle to bring its massive population into the modern era in terms of development can be seen from its ambitious nuclear build programme, which has received an incalculable boost in the form of greater acceptance from the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Here we investigate the scale of the country’s ambition and the international deals needed to translate it into reality.

India’s new found acceptance by the international community comes at an opportune time for the country’s nuclear sector. As recently as February, The Times of India reported that only three of the country’s 17 nuclear reactors were working at full capacity, due to a shortage of uranium. A total of 11 were working at low capacity factors, while three others had been shut down for long-term maintenance until November 2009. The three that are working to full capacity are doing so thanks to imported uranium, as opposed to local supplies. The overall capacity factor for the nation’s power plants is hovering around a rather lacklustre 60 per cent, underscoring the importance of the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from the perspective of securing the uranium fuel resources necessary to revitalise the country’s nuclear industry.

The plans for new build are ambitious. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India is planning to build ten new 1200-1400MW high capacity light water reactors by 2020, as part of the 12th Five Year Plan. The Plan aims to increase the country’s nuclear generating capacity to 10GW from the current 4.56GW in the form of 20 reactors. This should perhaps be taken with a strong pinch of salt given that the country has had a long track record of setting ambitious targets for its power sector, which are often not achieved. On the other hand, the country’s Science, Technology and Earth Sciences minister, Prithviraj Chavan told lawmakers in the upper house that the country’s nuclear generating capacity is expected to increase by around 68 per cent to 7.28GW by March 2012 as a result of projects already under construction. The current fleet accounts for just three per cent of India’s generating capacity.

NPCIL successfully commissioned two nuclear reactors each of 220MW at Rajasthan in February and March 2010. A 220MW light water reactor at Kaiga is expected to be completed by June 2010 and will be followed by two 1000MW reactors at Kudankulam, projected to be commissioned in September 2010 and March 2011. There is also a 500MW fast-breeder reactor at Kalpakkam under construction, which is expected to be completed in 2011 (see the trouble with thorium, below). The funds required by existing projects over the next two years are estimated to be INR36.19bn (US$805m).

To continue reading this story and have free 100% access to the IFandP website, register - it takes 20 seconds

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Blogplay
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter

No Responses

Leave a Reply

Make sure you enter the * required information where indicated.

You must be logged in to post a comment.