Nuclear Rise

Segment crosses the 6,000 MW mark

Despite an early start, in 1969, nuclear power development failed to take off significantly in India. At present, it has a share of less than 2 per cent in the country’s total installed power capacity. In this scenario, India has made a commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to scale up its clean energy capacity. This would lead to greater focus on clean energy sources including nuclear power. While nuclear power is perceived as a solution to India’s energy woes, actual capacity addition in the space has been less than satisfactory.

Power Line provides an overview of the nuclear power segment in the country…

Capacity and generation trends

Currently, the country has 22 nuclear reactors, with a total installed capacity of 6,780 MW, distributed over seven nuclear power plants. These are the 1,400 MW Tarapur Atomic Power Station in Maharashtra, the 1,180 MW Rajasthan Atomic Power Station in Rajasthan, the 2,000 MW Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tamil Nadu, the 880 MW Kaiga Generating Station in Karnataka, the 440 MW each Madras Atomic Power Station in Tamil Nadu, the Narora Atomic Power Station in Uttar Pradesh and the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station in Gujarat.

Between 2012-13 and 2016-17, the total installed nuclear power capacity increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.24 per cent. However, between March 2011 and March 2014, there was no capacity addition and the installed capacity was constant at 4,780 MW. In December 2014, the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Unit 1 of 1,000 MW was commissioned, increasing the total installed capacity to 5,780 MW. Further, during 2016-17, 1,000 MW of nuclear capacity was added in March, when the second unit at Kudankulam began operations.

With regard to generation, there was an increase from 32,455 MUs in 2011-12 to 37,663.73 MUs in 2016-17, registering a CAGR of about 3.02 per cent. On a year-on-year basis, generation registered an increase of 0.67 per cent during 2016-17. Meanwhile, the average PLF of nuclear power plants stood at 74.34 per cent during 2016-17, as compared to 73.69 per cent in the previous year.

Upcoming projects

The government expects the installed nuclear capacity to reach 9,580 MW by 2020 with the completion of projects under construction, and to about 12,980 MW by 2024 on the completion of new projects accorded sanction.

Currently, four reactors with a total capacity of 2,800 MW are under construction. These are Units 7 and 8 of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, and Units 3 and 4 of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station. Both of these are being developed indigenously. Four more reactors with a total capacity of 3,400 MW have been sanctioned by the government. These are Units 1 and 2 of the Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojna (GHAVP) and Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. While the GHAVP will be developed indigenously, Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam project will be set up in collaboration with Russia. Further, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited, a PSU of the Department of Atomic Energy, is constructing a 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu, which is scheduled to be commissioned by October 2017.

Recent developments

India has recently taken over full operational control of the first unit at the Kudankulam power plant from its Russian contractor entity, the ASE Group of Companies, a subsidiary of ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia. Further, the government has finalised agreements with its Russian counterpart for constructing the fifth and sixth units of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. The third and fourth units are already under construction and are scheduled to be commissioned in 2022 and 2023 respectively while Units 5 and 6 are likely to be commissioned in 2025.

In another important development, in August last year, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and the US-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation (WEC) decided to finalise contractual agreements by June 2017 for setting up six reactors with a capacity of 1,208 MW each at Kovadda in Andhra Pradesh, in partnership with Larsen & Toubro Limited. However, the deal’s future is now uncertain as WEC filed for bankruptcy in March 2017.

The way ahead

Nuclear power development in India has suffered multiple setbacks in recent years. Strong public opposition has been one of the key challenges. Further, issues pertaining to liability and the interpretation of the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage Act by foreign and domestic suppliers have virtually stalled any development of nuclear plants on the ground. The risk perception of suppliers will determine the future development in the sector. Although India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group is mired in geopolitical controversies, with member states such as China opposed to India’s entry in the group, the country is firm in its resolve to achieve the 63 GWe target by 2032.

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