Focus on small modular reactors at India Nuclear Business Platform

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The fourth edition of the India Nuclear Business Platform (INBP) was held in the country’s commercial capital Mumbai earlier this month. Since 2017, INBP has become a premier event where various Indian suppliers and global companies interact with the country’s nuclear industry leaders and experts. 

According to the INBP “it is a platform for networking, connecting to the key stakeholders, B2B meetings, assessing partnerships, and showcasing your brand, solutions, innovations, and expertise to the industry to enable a sustainable clean energy transition.” 

The focus of INBP-2023 was “on new developments, opportunities and challenges which are of current relevance in the Indian nuclear market.” 

As equipment supplier and technical consultant for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP), India’s largest nuclear power project, the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom also participated in the two-day event.  

Other notable participants at INBP 2023 included India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), NTPC Ltd, Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), Larsen & Toubro, among others.  

“Having strong presence in India as the designer and supplier of the main equipment to the Kudankulam NPP, Rosatom presented its industry-leading expertise and solutions in Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology, gaining traction in the South Asia region as a promising new solution in the nuclear energy field,” a Rosatom statement said.  

“This event provides an excellent platform for us to showcase our extensive expertise in the nuclear field, especially our unique experience in developing and implementing cutting-edge SMR solutions, both land based SMRs, recently received siting license in Russia, and the world’s first commercially operational Floating NPP (Akademik Lomonosov),” Rosatom’s Director of Projects, Alexandre Volgin, said. 

Among the speakers at INBP-2023 was the Chancellor of the Homi Bhabha National Institute and former Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Anil Kakodkar.  

In an exclusive interview with Nuclear Asia, Kakodkar said that transitioning to the globally agreed goal of net zero carbon emission requires a massive transformation and restructuring of energy systems that would involve large costs.  

“To reach developed country status, it is estimated that India would have to increase its energy consumption by four times the current level by 2070. Although we have made impressive progress in renewable energy development, including hydro, this alone will not be enough to fill the gap,” Kakodkar said. 

“The only way out is a rapid scale-up of nuclear energy capacity. Today nuclear energy has emerged as one of the cleanest and safest energies capable of effectively countering climate change,” he said, adding that to achieve this it is required to shed the “unfounded phobia” around nuclear energy.  

According to Kakodkar, India needs to pursue a multi-pronged strategy that would rely on the indigenously built 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs), the first of which is already operational at Kakrapar 3 in Gujarat, to be the “primary workhorse to provide base load power capacity addition.” 

“Secondly, build SMRs at a large number of sites that would be vacated by retiring coal plants in the coming decades,” he said.  

Besides, he suggested employing indigenously built 220 MW capacity PHWRs for supplying power to energy intensive industries like chemicals, metals and fertilisers, as well as developing high-temperature reactors for direct hydrogen production without resorting to electrolysis.        

Finally, Kakodkar recommended speeding up of the second and third stages of India’s nuclear power development to unleash the potential of thorium energy for ensuring long term sustainable power supply. India is estimated to have the largest reserves of thorium in the world, possessing around 25 percent of the global reserves.