India has 21 operational reactors in 7 on-line nuclear power plants, with the capacity of 5780 MW and producing 30,292.91 GWh of electricity. 6 more reactors are under construction and will generate 4300 MW.
Definition / Scope
- Uranium deposits in India are small and the country is dependent on the imports of the fuel for its nuclear power industry. From the starting of 1990s, Russia has played a major role in supplying unclear fuel to India. Due to diminishing reserves of uranium, electricity production saw a 12.83% fall from 2006 to 2008.
- One of the most promising reserves of uranium were found in Tummalapalle belt in Andhra Pradesh in March 2011. The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) of India has found 49,000 tonnes of uranium in just 15 km of the 160 km belt, and an indication has been raised that the total reserve present can be three times the reserve found till date.
- India has shown a keen interest in using thorium as their nuclear fuel because large deposits, approximately 5,18,000 tonnes in beach sands.
- October 2010, India planned to make its nuclear capacity reach the mark of 63,000 MW 2032. But unfortunately after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, there were questions regarding the safety of the Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) and regarding the atomic energy as clean and safe substitute for fossil fuels. There have been numerous protests against the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in Maharashtra and Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu. Even the West Bengal’s State Government rejected the proposal for a 6000 MW facility which intended to have 6 reactors.
- After all the problems, the capacity factor of Indian reactors during 2011-12 was 79% and 71% during 2010-11. 9/20 reactors had a 97% capacity factor during 2011-12. With the uranium from France put in use, the 220 MW Kakrapar 2 Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) reactors had an astounding 99% capacity during 2011-12.
Other Key Market Trends
- Apasara, India’s and Asia’s very first nuclear reactor was designed and made in India, with assistance from UK. Apsara was inaugurated on 20th January, 1957. Another nuclear reactor was built with the help of Canda.
- An agreement was signed in 1956 regarding the 40 MW reactor and Canadian-Indian reactor, US (CIRUS) was achieved. It was provided to India on the condition that it shall not be used for military purposes.
- Rajasthan Power Plant (RAPP-1) was signed in 1963 and then RAPP-2 followed. The United States and Canada terminated their assistance after India’s first nuclear detonation in 1974.
Market Size and Forecast
- India now plans to increase the contribution of electricity generated from NPPs to overall electricity generation from 2.8% to 9% in a span of 25 years. By 2020, India’s online nuclear power generation capacity will rise to 20, 000 MW (2 X 1010 W).
- The nuclear industry in India is going to experience a huge expansion in the coming years, mainly due to the acceptance of US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. When the agreements proposals are constructed and go on-line, India can generate an additional 25,000 MW by 2020, making India’s nuclear power capacity reach the 45,000 MW mark.
- India has already started using the imported uranium for water reactors that are currently under the IAEA. Use of water reactors have become the attraction for energy industry in all the countries as it consumes uranium completely. While uranium deposits are diminishing, thorium deposits are used to provide 100 times the energy provided by uranium.
- The fact that thorium can be utilized completely, theoretically, there have been developments regarding the tie up of thorium and water-reactors. A prototype is already under construction at Kalpakkam by BHAVINI- a public sector enterprise by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).
- India has approximately 1% of global uranium deposits which is sufficient enough for India’s commercial and military reactors as well as for nuclear weapons. As per today, India consumes 478 tonnes of uranium per year. Even if India consumes 4 times its current consumption, nuclear power generation would consume 2000 tonnes uranium/year. Based on India’s commercially available uranium deposits, which are 80,000 – 1,12,000 tonnes, India is looking at 40-50 years of nuclear power fuel.
- The long-term aim of India’s nuclear power program has been transformed into a heavy water-thorium reactor.