The country's fuel-starved nuclear power stations have seen operational efficiency surge following the doubling of uranium supplies from the Turamdih mill in Jharkhand.

Anil Sasi

New Delhi, March 10

Nuclear generation is slated to get a booster dose with both uranium imports and domestic production perking up.

India has firm commitments for 510 tonnes of natural uranium from Kazakhstan and Russia in 2010-11. During the current fiscal, the country had received 478 tonnes from France and Russia. Additionally, to augment domestic supplies, the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) has initiated the process for developing new uranium mines and processing plants at two sites in Andhra Pradesh and Meghalaya.

According to officials, the expected quantity of uranium to be imported during 2010-11, for which deals have been tied-up, are 300 tonnes of natural uranium from Kazakhstan and 210 tonnes from Russia. During the current financial year, 300 tonnes of natural uranium came in from France and 120 tonnes of natural uranium and 58 tonnes of enriched uranium were received from Russia.

In terms of overall supplies, Russia has entered into an umbrella agreement for supply of 2,000 tonnes of nuclear fuel starting from 2009. Kazakhstan has also entered into an umbrella agreement for supply of 2,100 tonnes of fuel. However, France's consignment of 300 tonnes of fuel last year was a one-time supply, officials said.

To spur domestic supplies, UCIL plans to set up new mines and processing plant at Lambapur-Peddagattu in the Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh and at Kylleng Pyndengsohiong Mawthabah in West Khasi hills district, Meghalaya, officials said.

Already, the country's fuel-starved nuclear power stations have seen operational efficiency surge following the doubling of uranium supplies from the Turamdih mill in Jharkhand.

Besides, NPCIL has also re-started the RAPS Unit II with imported fuel from France, while the Tarapur station is getting Russian fuel, boosting overall nuclear generation. Most of these plants were operating below 50 per cent for more than a year due to shortage of uranium fuel.

N-Power generation up

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.

According to Government data, the generation from nuclear power stations during the April-December period surged with the production at key stations including Kaiga, Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, Madras Atomic Power Station and Tarapur rising as fuel availability improved.

During April-December, Kaiga's load factor, or operational efficiency, rose to 56.10 per cent from 49.91 per cent last year, MAPS's was up 52.06 per cent (39.29 per cent) and Tarapur's rose to 64.31 per cent (49.84 per cent).

Related Stories:
Kudankulam gets uranium fuel from Russia
NPCIL signs uranium supply deal with Kazakhstan

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 11, 2010)
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