Slow progress in N-projects forces Govt to prune targets

Anil Sasi New Delhi | Updated on November 13, 2017 Published on December 11, 2011

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Tardy progress in new nuclear projects has forced the Government to sharply prune the ambitious capacity addition targets announced just three years back.

From the 20,000 MWe (mega watt electrical) nuclear capacity target by 2020 that was firmed up close on the heels of the euphoria surrounding the passage of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the targets have now been revised by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to just 10,080 MWe by the year 2017 and 14,580 MWe by 2020-21.

Currently, there are 20 nuclear reactors being operated by state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) that add up to 4,780 MWe. In the wake of the Fukushima incident in Japan, several nuclear projects, including the near-ready Kudankulam units in Tamil Nadu and the proposed Jaitapur project in Maharashtra, have run into rough weather as protesting locals and activists have stepped up agitations arguing that these plants could affect the safety of the people.

Protest at the Haripur site in West Bengal, which was being offered to the Russians as a second site, has also put the project in limbo. Plus, a beefing up of the domestic nuclear liability regime, effectively granting the operator (NPCIL) the right of recourse against suppliers of equipment, seems to have dampened the earlier enthusiasm among global reactor vendors.

As late as in mid-2010, the DAE, buoyed by the progress on the India-US agreement, the inking of civil nuclear pacts with France and Canada, and the liberal sentiment expressed within the Nuclear Supply Group on technology transfers as well as fuel supply assurances, had announced an ambitious target of 63,000 MWe to be achieved in the long term (by the year 2032). The Department seems to be now looking at the medium-term, with the latest target of 27,480 MWe being set for the year 2023-24.

Six Greenfield sites

The Centre has, in principle, given a nod for six greenfield sites in Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal for new nuclear units. The bulk of this capacity augmentation by NPCIL will be through larger-sized indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs (pressurised heavy water reactors) and imported LWRs (light water reactors) ranging between 1,000 MWe and 1,650 MWe.

For the LWRs, the Government has short-listed Toshiba-Westinghouse's ‘AP1000' reactor series, GE-Hitachi's ‘ESBWR' reactors, Areva's EPRs (formerly called European Pressurised Reactors) and the Russian ‘VVER' reactors, which are already being deployed at Kudankulam.

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Published on December 11, 2011
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