10-fold n-power capacity scale-up on

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Anil Sasi

New Delhi, Jan. 30

Plans to scale up India's nuclear capacity nearly ten-fold over the next decade has got underway, with the Centre according ‘in principle' approval to over 38,000 MWe (mega watt electrical) of new reactor capacity.

Imported Light Water Reactor units ranging from 1,000 MWe to 1,650 MWe from Russia, France and the US would make for over 80 per cent of the envisaged capacity, with indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors of 700MWe accounting for the rest.

“The units are planned to be constructed with a gestation period of about six years from the first pour of concrete to commercial operation. The plan is to start work on the first set of twin units at these sites by 2012,” a Government official said.

Site clearances, including primary environmental clearance, have been received for the second phase of the Koodankulam project (four additional Russian ‘VVER' series of reactors) and the Jaitapur site (in Maharashtra), where French nuclear major Areva NP would set up its ‘EPR' reactor units.

State-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd had initially set itself a target of achieving a total installed capacity of 20,000 MWe by 2020.

This, according to officials, could go up to 40,000 MW if the LWR programme gains momentum, with Toshiba-Westinghouse's AP1000 series of reactors, GE-Hitachi's ABWR reactor series, Areva's 1,650 MWe European Pressurised Reactors and the Russian ‘VVER' reactors set to be deployed at the earmarked sites. The current installed nuclear capacity is 4,120 MWe.

Besides the units that have bagged clearances, four 700 MWe indigenous PHWRs are already under construction at Kakrapar in Gujarat (KAPP-3 and 4) and Rawatbhata in Rajasthan (RAPP-7 and 8), while two 1,000 MW reactors are coming up at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu through Russian assistance.

Russia has cashed in on its first-mover advantage in the nascent Indian nuclear market by moving ahead with plans for additional units at the Koodankulam site, where it is in advanced stages of commissioning the first phase of the same project consisting of two ‘VVER-1000' units of 1,000 MWe each. It has also got a greenfield site in West Bengal for fresh capacity of 6,000 MW.

France has also begun the process of setting up its maiden project at the Jaitapur site.

The Americans are still waiting in the wings, though the Government has indicated its willingness to earmark two sites to US reactor manufacturers. The demand by the US companies for capping of accident liabilities and lack of consensus at a bilateral level on enrichment and reprocessing rights for future fuel supplies are holding up the entry of American players.

Related Stories:
Nuclear generation up on improved uranium supplies
Peak power demand to widen to 12.6% this year
Imported fuel supplies for nuclear stations being tied up

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 31, 2010)
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