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Plan transmission corridors with nuclear plant: R K Pandey

CAG faults NPCIL for cost overruns on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
Director General of National Power Training Institute Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pandey
Director General of National Power Training Institute Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pandey

The BJP-led Indian government has been keen on augmenting its nuclear power generation capability but the director of the national apex body for Training and Human Resources Development in power sector says lack of transmission infrastructure is the biggest impediment on this road. Director General of National Power Training Institute Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pandey lays down the challenges in the way to Nuclear Generation threadbare in an interview to Nuclear Asia.

In France 70 per cent of electricity is generated through nuclear power. In India, currently 60 per cent of our power is supplied through thermal energy. Under such circumstances, can nuclear energy be the next best alternative?

As per Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) the nuclear power capacity is expected around at 30,000 MW and that it can become the cleanest source of power. But, there is this notion among the people that nuclear power is dangerous. This despite the fact that many advanced countries are operating with nuclear power.

The government previously had the goal of 100 GW of solar, 60 GW of wind and 15 GW of biomass etc. When it was felt that generating 100 GW of solar is very difficult, they included hydro as well. So now if you look at any government declaration, it is 40 GW by 2022, which was 100 earlier. It means that nuclear has been left in totality, hydro and solar has been combined to 100 GW, 60 GW of wind and 15 GW of biomass.

Now, let us come to the topic of grid interface of renewable energy. If we can produce nuclear power through thorium which is abundantly available with us then we can generate nuclear power in abundance. Unfortunately this technology has not yet been utilised in its full capacity.

What are the major challenges that comes into play post production of nuclear power?

The first challenge is that we are still dependent on some other countries for the supply of uranium.

The way I see it, nuclear power will form large portion of renewable energy penetrating the Indian grid. As on date it is 310 GW in the grid. The biggest challenge is, if you allow penetration of renewable energy in the Indian grid, say 175 GW, there is no guarantee as to how much power will be available. You see that hydro power is only available for 3-4 months, as long as there is good monsoon and the dams have sufficient water for the production of electricity.

So the energy has to be stored and we have to go for pumped storage because there is no other solution! This is where nuclear power can play a very big role. Nuclear power, allows the power to generate very fast and because of the inbuilt characteristics of the processing device, the reactor, power can revert back also.

You have to understand that nuclear power is the cleanest power with all safety measures taken into considerations, but the grid connectivity is not yet planned. So tomorrow if the Government of India declares that we need 100 GW from nuclear energy, there is no infrastructure that can supply this huge amount. For this the only solution is High Voltage DC (HVDC) transmission technology that can carry 8000 MW at a time, contrary to HVAC. The biggest advantage is, it is fully controllable, but HVAC is not controllable.

In this regard it is very important that site selection of nuclear power plant must be very optimal (favourably the coastal belt). Not only from the angle of the installation of the nuclear power plants (NPP) but also transmitting power to the remote ends of the country.
So, ideally the transmission corridor has to be planned simultaneously with the NPP. At the same time, nuclear power must be integrated in the grid with concept of intelligent automation. So whenever there is intermittency since you cannot get the same power through the renewable energy, so nuclear power can be immediately restored in minimum time and it can match the load demand immediately.

So its control facilitates the integration of the NPP in the grid structure.

Given the time taken to construct nuclear power plant and a thermal power plant which is more economical in terms of power production and distribution?

A thermal power plant takes at least 6-7 years to become fully operational whereas a nuclear power plant takes relatively lesser time to construct. The construction of the nuclear reactor is the only time consuming affair in a NPP. So gestation period is not just the only thing. But you also have to look from the angle of delivery of the power. So planning has to be done depending on the regional requirement.

Honestly saying, nuclear power planning has not been undertaken by the government of India and I mentioned this in one of the meetings of BARC a year and a half ago. We have thorium in abundance which can be used to produce electricity but our reactors are not designed to process thorium, they are based on uranium. So the government of the day has to frame the necessary policies to that effect.

Will it be correct to say that there is a dearth of research in the area of nuclear energy in India?

Without any question there is severe dearth in research in the area. BARC is supposed to undertake this. There is no industrial collaboration with other research institutes. The only point is you can simulate but that is not all. Simulation can be of assistance to engineering but unless you combine simulation with demonstration and go with pilot project of may be 20 MW or 100 MW it is of no use.

Neither BARC comes forward nor other academic institution. There is lack of collaboration, coordination and also lack of building expertise. This is a matter of serious concern for a country like ours, which aims to be an economic superpower.

If you want to be strong in this area, you need to have a very strong collaboration domestically. I once wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to form the National Research Integration Group (NRIG) the basic purpose of which is to integrate the many interdisciplinary research that is going on. For example in the field of nuclear energy, you must have the expertise of material technology, controls, related infrastructure, safety and security etc.

In India, there may be experts who know something in a particular field but in isolation they are nothing, there should be an attempt to put all the expertise in one place at least in a coordinated manner.

As an academic what is your observation about the student community when it comes to take up nuclear engineering or any higher studies in nuclear technology?

I would say that the neither the students nor those who frame the courses are mature. They simply try to put fascinating names, just to get business. Any academic courses on nuclear technology at any level of study must be vetted by the BARC.

Bangladesh approved the draft of an agreement with Russia on spent nuclear fuel

The Cabinet approved the draft of an agreement titled ‘Agreement between the Russian Federation and Bangladesh on Cooperation Concerning Return of Spent Nuclear Fuel from Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant to the Russian Federation’.

The approval was given at the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at the cabinet room of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban here with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Briefing the reporters after the meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said that the issue of returning back nuclear waste came up for primary discussion when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Russia and had meeting with Russian President.

The Russian Federation then agreed to dispose of nuclear waste, the Cabinet Secretary said adding that once the agreement is signed, Bangladesh would get relief from the nuclear waste hazard.

The agreement between the two countries could be signed anytime and it would help disposal of the nuclear wastes in accordance with the full safety measures, he said.

The Cabinet meeting also approved a proposal for ratifying the ‘Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities’.

The Cabinet Secretary said the original convention was first adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) member states in 1979. Some 107 countries have so far signed and ratified the recent amendment to the Convention of the IAEA and Bangladesh also needs to sign the amendment of the IAEA as a signatory of the original convention.

The amendment of the IAEA would cover domestic use of nuclear materials, storage and transportation, he added.

India’s indigenous nuclear energy program will not impede cooperation with Russia: M R Srinivasan

Founder-Chairman (retd) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) M R Srinivasan. Source: bellatrixaerospace.com

The cooperation between India and Russia on the nuclear energy front will not be impeded by New Delhi’s programme to build its own nuclear reactors. Hailing signing of agreement on last units of Kudankulam nuclear power plant as an important milestone, Founder-Chairman (retd) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) M R Srinivasan said in an interview to Russian News Agency, TASS that Moscow can help New Delhi to ‘maximise localisation’ of the programmes in the nuclear sphere.

How do you see the inking of the much awaited pact between India and Russia for the construction of the Units of 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu? How do you think it will further the cooperation between the two countries in the field of nuclear energy?

Signing of agreement on units 5 and 6 of Kudankulam is a good news, as the matter has been under discussion for some time. It is an important milestone in Indo-Russian nuclear relations.

How do you explain that Russia has been the only country to have cooperation with India in the construction of the nuclear power plants?

India has been discussing with AREVA of France and Westinghouse of USA. Both these companies have faced severe financial problems and so no agreements could be reached so far.

Does India’s plan to build 10 nuclear reactors of its own will impede the cooperation with other countries?

Government of India has cleared a proposal to build ten indigenous pressurized heavy-water reactor (PHWR) of 700MW capacity each. This does not mean we will stop cooperation with other countries.

How Russia can further its cooperation with India in the nuclear sphere?

Russia can certainly take part in Make in India Program in the nuclear sphere. There is a proposal that six VVER-1200 reactors could be built at a second site in India. India would like to maximise localisation and we hope Moscow will be fully supportive.

Russia to engage India in Rooppur NPP construction in Bangladesh

Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom plans to engage Indian experts in the construction of the first Bangladeshi nuclear power plant (NPP) Rooppur, the company’s CEO Alexey Likhachev told Sputnik on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday.

“We are considering inviting Indian specialists to participate in the Rooppur project… We are talking about engaging Indian experts in training staff and for technical consultations. Finally, our Indian colleagues’ participation in the construction itself will be useful, this will allow to optimize the work,” Likhachev said.

The Rosatom CEO noted that the idea was initially voiced by the Indian side at the October 2016 BRICS summit in Goa, while the Bangladeshi side had no objections.

The Rooppur power plant is set to be built on the eastern bank of the Padma River about 100 miles from the country’s capital of Dhaka. It will consist of two power generation units with Russian VVER-1200 reactors, each generating 1.2 GWs.

The 21st SPIEF kicked off on Thursday for its 3-day run, gathering high-ranking politicians and prominent business leaders from dozens of countries in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

India and Russia signed an agreement on the third stage of Kudankulam nuclear power plant construction

India and Russia on Thursday concluded a much-awaited pact for setting up the last two units of the Kundankulam nuclear power plant with Moscow’s help in Tamil Nadu after overcoming initial hurdles to finalise the strategic deal.

The General Framework Agreement (GFA) and Credit protocol for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam nuclear plant are seen as a major outcome of the annual summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We welcome the conclusion of the the General Framework Agreement and Credit protocol for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power plant,” said a vision document issued after the Modi-Putin talks.

The reactors will be built by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Russia’s ASE Group of Companies, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex. Each of the two units will have a capacity to produce 1,000 MW of power.

The document titled ‘A vision for the 21st Century’ said economies of India and Russia complement each other in the energy sector and both countries will strive to build an “energy bridge”.

It said the future of Indian-Russian cooperation holds great promise across a wide spectrum covering nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear science and technology.

“We will strive to build an ‘energy bridge’ between our states and expand bilateral relations in all areas of energy cooperation, including nuclear, hydrocarbon, hydel and renewable energy sources and in improving energy efficiency,” it said.

The growing partnership in the nuclear power sector between India and Russia has opened opportunities for developing advanced nuclear manufacturing capabilities in India in line with India’s “Make In India” initiative, the declaration said.

“Extremely important documents have been signed that have been the focus of intensive joint work during the recent months. At the present time, all the formalities have been executed in order to finally launch the project of the construction of two new power units of Kudankulam NPP under Russian technologies. I would like to point out with satisfaction that in such a way the project implementation has been transferred into the practical phase, – said President of ASE Group of Companies Valery Limarenko. – We highly appreciate the joint work with the Indian colleagues on construction of Kudankulam NPP in Tamil Nadu state”.

India and Russia commit themselves to earnestly implement the “Programme of Action for Localisation in India” signed on December 24, 2015, and to encourage their nuclear industries to engage closely and foster concrete collaborations, it said.

The current nuclear power generation capacity of all 22 nuclear power reactors is 6780 MW.

In October 2015, a joint statement between Modi and Putin promised the signing of a GFA on the nuclear units by December 2016. After an inter-ministerial group cleared the project, it was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for approval. But, sources said, the Credit Protocol, or a line of credit that Russia was to provide, proved to be a hurdle.

The two countries also said that there has been a “steady and demonstrable” achievements in bilateral civil nuclear partnership, including advancing nuclear power projects at the Kudankulum site and transforming it into one of India’s largest energy hubs.

“Cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy has emerged as one of the hallmarks of the strategic partnership between the two countries, contributing to India’s energy security and energising broader scientific and technological cooperation,” as per the document.

The general contractor (in part of engineering, supply of the equipment and technical assistance) of Kudankulam NPP is ASE Group of Companies.

Global nuclear giants go bust, should India celebrate?

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in India safe from Fukushima-like disaster

The global nuclear industry is going through a virtual meltdown on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

This is happening even as India is investing heavily in nuclear energy. This collapse of atomic giants offers New Delhi a new opportunity and many in the Indian atomic establishment are silently celebrating this premature death of suitors who were wooing to put tens of atomic plants in India estimated to cost at least USD 150 billion.
“This atomic meltdown is a blessing in disguise” was how a top government official described the unfolding scenario.

In addition, in these changed circumstances, if the Indian private industry plays its cards right, it could also provide an opportunity to the country to become a hub for low cost suppliers of nuclear technology. A little far-fetched but who knows how energy games get played in the future.

In a way the diplomatic noose that had been tightened around Indias neck to buy super expensive French and American nuclear reactors has on its own been loosened if not shed at all.

As part of the protracted global negotiations on admitting India back into the nuclear commerce club, a kind of barter deal had happened and India had committed itself to buy French and American reactors, but now that the commercial operations of at least two of the foreign giants is floundering, India need not back down from its commercial commitments.

India can retain the moral high ground of wanting to buy the French and American reactors but since the companies themselves are in trouble no deals can be inked. India can once again hope to forge its own nuclear path free of shackles of forced imports of untested technologies.

The American atomic giant Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC filed for bankruptcy a week ago, last year the French nuclear giant Areva went through a similar process.

Both these companies had shown aggressive interest in setting up atomic power plants soon after the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal was inked. Both wanted a large chunk of the nuclear commerce worth billions of dollars that India was holding out as a promise once New Delhi was extricated from the atomic dog-house as a consequence of the landmark Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.

All along as negotiations were going on around the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, there was a small but influential group in the Indian nuclear establishment that was most uncomfortable at importing so many different types of reactors.

This group felt that since India had mastered the making of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) the effort should ideally be to multiple this technology while alongside Indias futuristic reactors the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor which uses plutonium as its main fuel and the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor that uses thorium as its main fuel could be promoted.

Jairam Ramesh, the engineer-turned-influential politician in the United Progressive Alliance government, was an early opponent of importing so many different types of reactors.

Towards mastering the PHWR, India on its own first enhanced the capacity of these reactors from 220 MW to 540 MW by constructing two of them at Tarapur in Maharashtra and then the same reactor has been modified to enhance the capacity to 700 MW with four units already under construction at Kakrapar and Rawatbhatta.

Among imported reactors India successfully started commercial operation of two 1000 MW units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu these are made with Russian help. In the Indian nuclear establishment some felt the Russian reactors and the Indian three stage program was more than enough to ensure long term energy security for the country.

Mastering several different technologies is a complex task and there was a lot of consternation among several senior scientists that if the entire Indo-US civilian nuclear deal were to be implemented then at least three new reactor types would have to mastered.

These included Areva proposing to put six atomic plants each of 1650 MW capacity at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. Westinghouse was wanting to sell at least 6 reactors of 1200 MW each to be put up at Kovadda in Andhra Pradesh — these were initially proposed to be put up at Mithivirdi in Gujarat but land acquisition issues forced Westinghouse to opt for a different site.

General Electric was proposing to put a mega nuclear park as well. Each of these three different reactors are very different from each other and an entirely new set of people would have to be trained to safely operate these.

Typically each new reactor operates for 60 years and then it takes another couple of decades to safely decommission them hence the investment of human resources is a commitment of at least a century.

With Westinghouse filing for bankruptcy it is highly unlikely that India would order any reactors from them anytime soon. The idea was to order in one go 6 nuclear plants that would be delivered on a turnkey basis. Now that Westinghouse itself says it can only supply the technology for the nuclear island and does not want to undertake any construction activity.

Despite the fact India has already committed to pay Rs 100 crore to Westinghouse while ordering the AP 1000 reactors. These orders may obviously go into cold storage till Westinghouse and Toshiba its parent company in Japan iron out their differences.

Westinghouse denies that the India project is derailed but experts say expect delays galore.

Similarly, Areva the French giant that owned all the nuclear technology for the EPR 1650 MW reactor having been almost dissolved and the affairs taken over by Electricite de France or EDF the French electricity utility, these reactors for which quite a bit of ground work was already done at Jaitapur has also been cold shouldered since no buyer government would want to get involved when a messy fight is ongoing in the French public sector companies on ownership of the atomic plants.

On its own General Electric has been dragging its feet on bidding for reactors in India since its lawyers felt Indias nuclear liability law was more people friendly as opposed to the usual global nuclear liability law that is industry friendly.

In this scenario India is left with no other option but to multiply its indigenous fleet of 700 MW PHWRs and simultaneously expand its collaboration with Russia to buy at least 20 more Russian plants similar in nature but probably more advanced than the reactors operating at Kudankulam.

After India was admitted into the nuclear fold to allow global nuclear commerce all restrictions at importing uranium have already gone and if India seeks to multiply manifold its own home grown reactors that should not be difficult.

In addition since the co-operation with Russia is blossoming more light water reactors could well be ordered from Russia.

This sudden change in the wind direction with American and French nuclear companies all doddering has in way brought India back to where it was in 2004 before US President George Bush decided to shake hands and be friends with India in the nuclear power sector.

At that point India had its PHWRs and the Russian tech but what the country lacked was an assured supply of uranium fuel. India does not have sufficient native resources of uranium and if the nuclear program has to expand then importing uranium was the only option.

Today the supply of imported uranium fuel is well guaranteed under global law thanks to the atomic embrace but this melt down of nuclear giants has tilted the balance in Indias favour.

Now without ever having to officially deny buying expensive French and American reactors, New Delhi can opt to expand its existing fleet of atomic plants on its own terms. This meltdown is making the Indian nuclear establishment smile all the way.

India flirts with nuclear firms facing financial ruin

For long a pariah in the global nuclear technology market, Indian policymakers are pleasantly discovering how the boot is on the other foot as they are furiously courted by foreign firms themselves facing financial ruin.

American nuclear giant Westinghouse, which is in talks with the Indian government on a proposed project in Andhra Pradesh, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

A year ago, the French energy major Areva, which has offered to build reactors at a Maharashtra site, began a process of major restructuring following huge losses.

Westinghouse’s N-Project

Westinghouse is proposing to build six reactors of 1,000 MW capacity each at Kovvada in coastal Andhra Pradesh. The government has indicated this site in place of the originally proposed Mithi Virdi in Gujarat, where the local population protested against plans to erect a nuclear plant in their area.

Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh said in Parliament earlier this year that the land acquisition process at Kovvada had begun, while discussions had also started with Westinghouse on the techno-commercial aspects of a project proposal.

“I don’t understand why the government is so keen to talk to these nuclear power companies that are in major financial difficulty, unless it is to bail them out,” former Union Power Secretary EAS Sarma told IANS.

Why This Fuss

“The inevitable fallout of Westinghouse being in a financially weak position will be delay in completing the project and resulting cost over-runs. In this scenario, our government is looking to bail out American companies… to create jobs in the US,” he said.

“On the other hand, the government is going ahead with acquiring land, as if the opposition of locals at Kovvada is of no consequence as compared to the protests at Mithi Virdi,” he added.

Sarma said there are also concerns about the fuel for the reactors to be supplied as per contractual practice, by a financially crippled Westinghouse.

“Westinghouse has sold its fuel fabrication facility to the Chinese and so our fuel will come from the latter, which is a cause for concern, and I have written to the government on this,” the former Secretary said.

The Areva Precedent

The case of Areva, which is proposing six EPR-type 1,650 MW reactors at Jaitapur, is even more complex, with the French firm having signed the agreements with Larsen & Toubro and state-run Nuclear Power Corp during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s France visit in 2015.

Soon after, Areva declared massive losses of 4.8 billion euros and the French government, which owns 87 per cent of the company, announced its nuclear power arm would be sold to another state-run firm, EDF.

Sarma pointed out that Areva has struggled to complete two identical EPR reactors, one at Olkiluoto in Finland, which is still not operational despite over a decade-long delay and a trebling of costs, and the other in Flamanville, France, plagued by serious construction and security issues, delays and massive cost over-runs.

“The French nuclear security watchdog has issued a number of severe warnings to Areva on major security issues and manufacturing and construction flaws in the reactor being built in Flamanville,” Sarma said.

Flamanville is one of four EPRs under construction worldwide, and its cost overrun — from an estimated 3.3 billion euros to over 10 billion euros — is at the heart of Areva’s current problems.

“Now with their current troubles, there is even more likelihood of Areva compromising on design safety features, on which they have such poor track record,” Sarma said.

Other concerns

MR Srinivasan, a former Secretary to the Union government and ex-Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, is equally concerned about the time-delays and cost-escalations involved in closing the deals with these beleaguered foreign companies.

“Both these proposals are facing great uncertainty. Toshiba (the Westinghouse parent) is in serious financial difficulty, while Areva is undergoing major restructuring,” Srinivasan said.

“Some technical discussions are on, but the issue of financing will surely come up owing to concerns about cost-escalation,” he said.

According to Sarma, in the changed situation, “Westinghouse itself says it can only supply the technology for the nuclear island and does not want to undertake any construction activity.”

Times Have Changed

This is a complete reversal of the situation that prevailed before an agreement with the US in 2008 allowed India to engage in nuclear commerce and start importing uranium fuel again for its reactors.

Srinivasan said that in a world where multilateral financing is absolutely scarce for nuclear projects, which have long gestation periods, old allies Russia, whose state-run Rosatom is constructing the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tamil Nadu, provides a tried, tested and less expensive option.

“That is why we are going ahead with the Russians on more Kudankulam units — 3,4,5 and 6. The agreements with Russia also have provision for government financing,” he said.

Rosatom is currently in talks with the Indian government on the site for a second project of six reactors.

The Russian Offer

Russia has offered India a new range of reactor units — the VVER Generation 3 pressurised water reactors of 1,200 MW capacity — for the third and fourth units of the Kudankulam project.

An inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia was signed in December 2008 for setting up Kudankulam’s units 3 to 6. The ground-breaking ceremony for construction of units 3 and 4 was performed last year.

“All the Russian built units at Kudankulam, including the first and second, are ‘Generation 3 plus’ reactors. They meet all current safety requirements,” Srinivasan said.

“Their design has benefited from the review conducted of nuclear accidents like Three-Mile Island (US) and Fukushima (Japan),” he added.

Units 5 and 6 of Kudankulam nuclear power plant to cost around Rs 50,000 crore

Russia to ship pipe spools for Kudankulam's main coolant pipeline
Russia to ship pipe spools for Kudankulam's main coolant pipeline

The fifth and the sixth unit of India’s largest nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu will cost about Rs 50,000 crore to build with half of it being funded by Russia as loan.

The project will take seven years to start generating electricity, Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) Chairman and Managing Director SK Sharma told PTI in St Petersburg.

India and Russia on Thursday signed an agreement for the two new reactors for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) on the sidelines of the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The entire project will cost about Rs 50,000 crore. The first unit will be commissioned in 66 months and the second six months thereafter,” Sharma said.

Atomstroyexport, a unit of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, will build the reactors.

“The project will be funded in 70:30 debt-equity ratio (70 percent debt, 30 percent equity),” he said.

The Russian government will lend India USD 4.2 billion to help cover the construction cost.

Sharma said the equity portion of project will either come from NPCIL’s own resources or from government.

At the agreement signing ceremony on Thursday, Russian President Putin said the first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was put into operation.

“The most reliable, latest Russian technology was used in its construction. The plant’s second unit has also started to generate electricity.”

“At a joint teleconference in October 2016 with Narendra Modi we launched the construction of the plant’s third and fourth units. And we reaffirmed our intention to build in India at least 12 Russian-designed energy units, which will make a large contribution to the development of India’s nuclear industry,” he said.

The KKNPP was the outcome of an inter-governmental agreement between the erstwhile Soviet Union and India in 1988. It is the single largest nuclear power station in India. The power station was envisaged to have six units with total capacity to generate 6,000 MW of electricity (1,000 MW each).

Construction on the plant began on 31 March, 2002 and Unit 1 was synchronised with the southern power grid in October 2013. The second unit started generating electricity in August last year. The original cost of the two units was Rs 13,171 crore, but it was later revised to Rs 17,270 crore. Russia advanced a credit of Rs 6,416 crore for construction of the two units.

Construction of plant’s third and fourth units was launched last year and will cost Rs 39,747 crore. While the cost of generating power from first two units is reported at Rs 4.29 per unit, the cost from 3 and 4 is likely to be significantly higher than that.

Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam plant are expected to be commissioned by 2022-23.

The Russian built Water-Water Energetic Reactor (VVER) reactor Kudankulam unit 1 and 2 are the largest power generating stations in the country. After all the units (1-6) of the plant are commissioned, the nuclear park will have the power generating capacity of 6,000 MW, boosting significantly the country’s nuclear power generation.

The current nuclear power generation capacity of all 22 nuclear power reactors in India is 6,780 MW.

Nuclear is one of the best alternative to traditional energy: Alpana Goel

Source: Getty images

Head of Amity Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, Dr. Alpana Goel speaks with Nuclear Asia about education in the field of nuclear engineering and why nuclear power is one of the best sustainable alternative to traditional energy.

What do you think on Indian government plan to develop nuclear power?

Nuclear energy as a source of electrical power is touted as one of the best sustainable alternative to traditional means of energy. In a country as diverse as India where the potential to harness the nuclear capacity is still at a nascent stage, preparing the next generation at an academic level is one of the biggest challenge that needs to be addressed.

In the wake of traditional fields of engineering and technology what is the response of the student community to a subject like, ”nuclear engineering?” In other words what is the impact of nuclear engineering as an academic subject to the overall industry?

At the outset it is difficult for students to accept the stream like nuclear science and nuclear engineering as such since the direct placement options were scarcely available. But for the past few years we have been able to successfully place our students directly in industry which should clear many misconceptions and doubts regarding the industry acceptance of the field. Also our students are widely accepted at various national and international research units. This will clear many doubts and will attract many more aspirants.Many new opportunities are coming up. Last year Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) included nuclear science/nuclear engineering as an eligibility in training program.

What are the future plans of your institute? Highlight on foreign collaboration and programmes in the coming months.

We already have international tie ups with reputed universities like University of Saskatchewan, Kings College London, Texas A&M University. We are member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna, Austria. We also conduct programmes on various aspects of nuclear science for both students and faculty in collaboration with these universities and hope to conduct many more program in future. Our students regularly participate in international activites organised by the IAEA. First time from India our students won WM awards for undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate) PG level. Amity University is playing leading role in nuclear program of India.

Bangladesh urges developing nations to draw benefits from peaceful use of nuclear technologies

Mentioning that Bangladesh is solidly anchored at its principled position on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the developing countries to forge greater cooperation to draw maximum benefits from the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies through IAEA expertise.

“Bangladesh remains committed to working with IAEA and other international partners in ensuring due diligence of the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The capacity-building and transfer of technologies are much needed by the developing countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she said.

The Prime Minister was delivering her statement at the ‘IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme – 60 Years and Beyond: Contributing to Development’ here.

Sheikh Hasina also called for strengthening efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to assists member states, particularly the LDCs and developing countries, implement the SDGs, urging the developed countries to help maintain IAEA resources assured and sufficient for the technical cooperation programmes.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, President of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Uruguay Tabaré Vázquez and the Chairman of the IAEA Board of Governors also spoke at the programme.

The Prime Minister greeted Yukiya Amano for his leadership and the agency for its dedicated efforts in the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy under its motto ‘Atoms for Peace and Development’ in the last 60 years. “I also thank IAEA for its support to Bangladesh in its development over the last 45 years.”

Recalling that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman decided to establish an Atomic Energy Research Establishment with the aim to transform the war-ravaged country into a prosperous “Golden Bengal”, Sheikh Hasina said in fact a small research reactor has been running successfully in this centre for over 30 years for research, radioisotope production, education and training purpose.

“We regard nuclear energy as a safe, environment-friendly and economically viable source of electricity generation to meet the ever-increasing demand of electricity of the country’s 160 million people. It’ll thus unlock our development potentials through enhanced productivity and sustained growth,” she said.

The Prime Minister said Russia-supported Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will produce 2,400MW electricity by two reactors. “Our aim is to generate at least 4,000MW electricity from nuclear source by 2030.”

She said Bangladesh enjoys an excellent collaboration with IAEA as it has successfully completed 138 national projects under Technical Cooperation and participated in 111 regional projects under Regional Cooperative Agreement-RCA.

Under the framework of IAEA’s Technical Cooperation programme, Hasina said, Bangladesh has received support in many areas such as promoting nuclear education and research, food safety, food security, human healthcare improvement, use of isotopes techniques in water and environment system management, industrial applications like Non Destructive Testing, crop and livestock improvement and pest control.

Among many activities, she shared with the audience two concrete examples of Bangladesh’s achievement in the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) has developed high-yielding, high-nutritive, short-duration, salt- and flood -tolerant and climate-resilient mutant varieties of different crops using nuclear technology, radiation and other advanced techniques.

She said Bangladesh has already developed 92 improved varieties of 13 crops. BINA was awarded with the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ in 2014 by FAO-IAEA for its contribution towards the achievement of food security.

Hasina said the number of people who can affordably access diagnostic medical care in Bangladesh has increased 10 times over the last 20 years as the country has expanded and strengthened its nuclear medicine services. “Fifteen public and six private nuclear medicine institutes in the country carry out over 400000 nuclear medicine procedures each year in the areas of medical treatments.”

She said the uses of most recent nuclear technologies in the treatment of cancer are a real help to the people of Bangladesh.

“Science, technology and innovation played a major role in our achievement. A group of Bangladeshi scientists deciphered the complete genetic code of jute with a great success. We’ve also devised ‘science diplomacy’ to ensure partnership for sustainable economic development through knowledge generation and sharing,” the Prime Minister added.

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