Nuclear generation up on improved uranium supplies

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Anil Sasi

New Delhi, Jan. 23

With uranium supplies perking up, nuclear power generation surged 39 per cent in December 2009 and 19 per cent for the April-December period this fiscal.

Power generation at gasbasedstations also rose 31 percent during the April-Decemberperiod due to the availabilityof KG D-6 gas, partlymaking up for the dip in hydrogeneration due to erraticmonsoon, and the sluggishcoal-fired generation.According to Governmentdata, the generation from nuclearpower stations duringthe April-December periodsurged with the production atkey stations including Kaiga,Rajasthan Atomic Power Station,Madras Atomic PowerStation and Tarapur rising asfuel availability improved.During April-December,Kaiga's PLF (plant load factor)rose to 56.10 per centfrom 49.91 per cent last year,MAPS's was up 52.06 percent (39.29 per cent) and Tarapur'srose to 64.31 per cent(49.84 per cent).In the case of the fuelstarvednuclear power stations,efficiency levels havegone up considerably followingthe doubling of uraniumsupplies from the Turamdihmill in Jharkhand. Most ofthese plants were operatingbelow 50 per cent for morethan a year due to shortage ofuranium fuel.Besides, NPCIL has alsore-started the RAPS Unit IIwith imported fuel fromFrance, while the Tarapurstation is getting Russian fuel,boosting overall nuclear generation.As a percentage of totalgeneration, however, nuclearand gas-based capacitiesform a small proportion ofthe total power generation,with coal-fired stations beingthe mainstay.In the case of coal stations,the growth in generation wasonly marginal due to a shortageof domestic coal and nonmaterialisationof imports.Hydro generation wasdown nearly 8 per cent due topoor monsoon and its unevenspatial distribution, with reservoirsin the Northern andEastern regions badly affected.Overall energy content ofstorage in the reservoirs inthe Northern and Eastern regionswas 35 per cent and 25per cent below the last yearlevel as on December 31,2009.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 24, 2010)
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