Govt clears 10 new nuclear reactors in big power push

These will add 7,000 MWe, more than capacity of all existing reactors.

Written by Anil Sasi , Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: May 18, 2017 6:59 am
Nuclear reactors, India nuclear reactors, cabinet nuclear reactors, Nuclear reactors india, new nuclear reactors india, Cabinet nuclear reactor, Piyush Goyal Union Minister for Power Piyush Goyal. (Source: File Photo)

In the biggest expansion of the country’s nuclear power industry, the Union Cabinet gave its approval Wednesday for the construction of 10 units of the new indigenous 700 MWe (mega watt electric) pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs). Never before have 10 nuclear reactors been cleared in one go. The addition of 7,000 MWe is more than the combined present installed capacity of 6,780 MWe. There are 22 reactors under operation as of today.

The new reactors are of significantly higher capacities compared to the PHWRs currently under operation — the standard PHWR being used in India is of 220 MWe though two 540 MWe reactors were installed in Tarapur in 2005 and 2006. The ten reactors will be installed in Kaiga in Karnataka (Unit 5 and 6), Chutka in Madhya Pradesh (Unit 1 and 2), Gorakhpur in Haryana (Unit 3 and 4) and Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan (Unit 1, 2, 3 and 4).

The decision to step up the indigenous civil nuclear reactor programme comes amid festering concerns over the deployment of imported light water reactor-based projects in collaboration with global vendors such as Toshiba-Westinghouse and Areva. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will set up the projects deploying the proposed 700 MWe reactor units, which mark a big leap for the state-owned NPCIL that has so far been building smaller-sized 220 MWe and 540 MWe reactor units as part of the country’s indigenous nuclear power programme.

Prior to the Cabinet announcement, NPCIL has said it is planning to commence work on 16 new reactors by March 2017, including eight indigenous PHWRs of 700 MWe each with a total capacity of 5,600 MWe and eight LWRs based on international cooperation — with Russia, France and the US — totalling a capacity of 10,500 MWe, a source working in the Department of Atomic Energy said.

“A total of 7,000 MWe capacity will be added. It will help produce clean energy,” Power Minister Piyush Goyal said at a briefing after the Cabinet meeting. Officials indicated that “substantial economies of scale” are being targeted, alongside “maximisation of cost and time efficiencies” by adopting the fleet mode for execution of the projects based on the 700 MWe units. “As the government marks three years of its nation and people-centric governance, in a first of its kind project for India’s nuclear power sector, the ten new units will come up in fleet mode as a fully homegrown initiative. It would be one of the flagship ‘Make in India’ projects in this sector,” an official statement issued after the Cabinet meeting said.

Likely manufacturing orders of close to Rs 70,000 crore are expected to come through to the domestic industry on account of the projects and are expected to generate more than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment. The Cabinet decision, the statement said, “reflects the government’s commitment to prioritise the use of clean power in India’s energy mix, as part of low-carbon growth strategy and to ensure long-term base load requirement for the nation’s industrialisation”.

Sites for nuclear power plants are selected after carrying out extensive studies by specialised national agencies at the siting stage and the sites are recommended after these meet the criteria laid down in the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) code on Site Evaluation of Nuclear Facilities.

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    prafulla baid
    May 22, 2017 at 11:58 am
    It is just a waste of tax payers money. The cost of producing nuclear power is almost Rs. 8.00 per unit. Who will buy it? Moreover, the safey concerns are too big. World is moving away from nuclear power. Comapnies are getting bankrupt. Look at Toshiba, Westinghouse and we are looking at establishing nuclear power stations. Either people have gone crazy or making lot of money in the process. Solar is the way to go...
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      prabhakara Rao Gogineni
      Jul 30, 2017 at 1:28 pm
      Dr Homi Babha Has said "NO POWER IS COSTLIER THAN NO POWER". Thus think positively Sir.
      Reply
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      Ramesh Chhabra
      May 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm
      Whether these projects and N- deal of 2008 for 170 billion dollars are same? If so, what happened of 170 billion dollars deal? NGT had punished organizers for holding program nearby Yamuna. On one hand NGT/ environment departments are looking environment "Kuan main baans daal daal kar, the other hand we are inviting nuclear projects without caring future environment. It is better to generate, plan and execute more and more Solar projects. Solar projects are early accessible and environmentally.
      Reply
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        Sankaran Krishnan
        May 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm
        The Indigenous Nuclear Industry will flourish across India and with Make in India the Nuclear commerce will expand on its own and if we are capable of matching the International ones , we can think of exporting to our neighbors in South Asian Countries - SAARC which is advantageous if done through from India due to logistics and freight rates which is cheap when compared to get the same from USA and Western Countries for them !!!
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          Ivan
          May 18, 2017 at 12:53 pm
          For the foreseeable horizon, natural gas offers cleaner, cheaper and safer means of electricity generation. There is an astounding amount of natural gas coming onstream all over the world. We may need one or two fast breeder reactors to support the nuclear weapons program, but otherwise and especially after the horrific fallout from ushima, it wiser not to rely on nuclear power.
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            goldenfig
            May 18, 2017 at 11:08 am
            Govt clears 10 new nuclear reactors in big powerless useless action, piyush! See energy audit of the indian nuclear programme by goog .
            Reply
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              Andy Kadir
              May 18, 2017 at 10:02 am
              Some of the nuclear waste will be lethal for billions of years, how much will it cost to keep the nuclear waste safe for billions of years? A 10 kilometre deep lined and capped water well can convert all power stations to clean energy.
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                Prasenjit Biswas
                May 18, 2017 at 8:25 am
                None of the comments ever raise any issue about disposal of nuclear waste. Waste created by these power plants will definitely be radioactive with the huge potential for disaster. If an and Germany are cutting down on their nuclear reactors, be it for power or for other military purposes, why India is repeating the same, even after ushyma? Can't we have safer, sustainable and environmentally stable power generation projects? Do we allow generations to be crippled by power plants? The case of Sonbhadra district in UP, where generations are crippled should be an eye opener, before such blind and uncritical support to power plants. Are you all addressing the concerns of radioactivity in your comparative jingo about going ahead of China and Russia? Do we lack ideas to evolve safe power generation projects? Or there are pressing corporate interests behind such nuclear projects which later will be handed over to private parties?
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                  Gurdeep Jolly
                  May 18, 2017 at 3:44 am
                  very good idea. it should be done in short period only then good
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