Nuclear Fuel Complex, the sole supplier of fuel to the country’s nuclear power plants, has firmed up plans to establish two major fuel fabrication facilities to meet the expected jump in nuclear power production.

A 500-tonne/year fabrication facility at Kota in Rajasthan, with an investment of Rs 1,600 crore, is all set to take off. It will also have a 65-tonne/year Zircalloy plant. The second is a much larger, 1,250-tonne/year facility, said N. Saibaba, Chief Executive of NFC.

The bigger unit is likely to come up in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh. The process of site selection and evaluation has begun. It will also have a Zircalloy production unit, he told Business Line here today.

These steps are needed to meet the expansion plans of the Nuclear Power Corporation, the producer of nuclear power. The Corporation plans to add at least 10 units of 700 MW and Presssurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) in the coming decade.

These reactors are expected to come up in Gorakhpur, Haryana (2), Chutka, Madhya Pradesh (2), Mahi Banswara, Rajasthan (2), Kakrapar, Gujarat (2) and Bhimpur, Madhya Pradesh (2). The last two units are yet to be cleared by the atomic energy regulator, Saibaba said.

The immediate challenge is to meet the fuel needs of the four units (700 MW) coming up at Rajasthan (units 7&8) and Kakrapar (3&4). The NPC has targeted to commission them by 2016-17. “We expect to ready the Kota facility by that time. However, the initial demand would be met from the existing Hyderabad facility,” the NFC Chief said.

At present, the Hyderabad-based, NFC supplies fuel to the 19 operational power plants run by the NPC, which has 20 plants with an installed capacity of 4800 MW.

Somasekhar.m@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on May 13, 2013)
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