India has achieved its target of nuclear power generation for the first quarter (April-June) of the current financial year 2021-22, the nation’s Parliament was informed earlier this week. In fact, the actual generation during the period at 11,256 million units (MUs) exceeded the target of 10164 MUs during April-June 2021.
Informing the Indian Parliament of this achievement, the Atomic Energy Minister Jitendra Singh also told the Upper House in a written reply that the overall target of atomic energy generation for 2021-22 is 41821 MUs.
In response to a separate question in the Lok Sabha, or the Lower House of Parliament, the Minister said that construction work is underway to build 10 more nuclear reactors in the country that would provide an additional power capacity of 8,000 MW.
“The government has accorded administrative approval and financial sanction for construction of 10 indigenous 700 MW Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) to be set up in fleet mode. On progressive completion of the projects under construction and accorded sanction, the nuclear capacity is expected to reach 22,480 MW by 2031. More nuclear power plants are also planned in future” Singh said in a written reply.
The country currently has 22 nuclear reactors in operation with a total capacity of 6,780 MW, and one more unit – Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP)-III of 700 MW capacity located in Gujarat state – was synchronised with the grid on January 10, 2021.
KAPP Unit 3, which became India’s first fully indigenously built pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) of 700 MW capacity, is operated by the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL). This is the highest capacity achieved by an indigenously designed and fabricated reactor and had attained its first criticality, or controlled self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction, in July last year.
Singh had informed Parliament earlier this year that the government has granted administrative approval and financial sanction for construction of 12 more nuclear power reactors, of which 10 are for indigenously built 700 MW (PHWRs) to be set up in the fleet mode, as well as for 2 Light Water Reactors (LWRs) to be set up in cooperation with the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom.
The fleet mode of construction of the 10 PHWRs, to be built indigenously at a total estimated cost of $16.3 billion, ensures standardisation, lower costs and speed up the setting up of nuclear power plants (NPPs) in the country. The 10 planned reactors are units 5 and 6 at the Kaiga in Karnataka state, units 1 and 2 at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, 4 units at Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan and units 1 and 2 at Gorakhpur in Haryana. In his reply, Singh also indicated that while the two units at Chutka proposed to be completed by 2031, would use natural uranium as fuel, the units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu, where Rosatom is the equipment supplier and technical consultant and which is expected to be constructed by 2026-27, would use enriched uranium as nuclear fuel.
Currently, 8 reactors are under construction in the country with a combined capacity of 6,200 MW. On completion of these under construction, NPCIL’s capacity will reach 12,980 MW by 2025. India’s current nuclear power capacity is expected to increase to 22,480 MW by 2031 on the completion of these proposed projects. Two Russian-made VVER units of 1,000 MW capacity each are currently operating at the Kudankulam NPP, where 4 more VVER-1000 units are under construction. As per an intergovernmental agreement, Rosatom will also help construct 6 more units in India at another location.