With the impasse over the first two units of the Koodankulam nuclear project behind it,the Centre has set the ball rolling on the next couple of twin imported light water reactor-based units that are to be taken up for implementation in the country.
First off the block would be the third and fourth units of the Koodankulam project,slated to come up right next to the two 1,000 MWe (mega watt electrical) Russian VVER 1000 units that are close to commissioning at the site in coastal Tamil Nadu. The twin 1,650 MWe units of Arevas EPR-based project in Jaitapur in coastal Maharashtra,where progress has been held up on account of additional compensation sought by a section of the local population,would be next in line.
For Koodankulam 3 and 4,the text of the Protocol for extending Russian State credit for implementation of the two units has already been approved by the government. The proposal for financial sanction of the twin Russian VVER units is currently under consideration, a government official involved in the exercise said.
In case of the Jaitapur project,the detailed project proposals,including costs and business models envisaging the share of work between the Indian side and the French side to arrive at an optimal cost,are under finalisation. The business models are planned to be devised so as to maximise the indigenous content,scope of work and responsibilities to reduce the costs. The tariff of electricity from the EPRs planned at Jaitapur is expected to be comparable to those of contemporary indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors, the official said.
At Jaitapur,on the compensation issue,a committee chaired by the District Collector had been constituted by the Maharashtra Government to arrive at additional compensation for the land acquired. The committee has since submitted its report to the state government. The additional compensation will be paid by NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation) based on final decision of the Maharashtra government in this regard, an official said.
NPCIL expects the much-delayed Koodankulam nuclear projects first unit to commence commercial operations by August 2012,and the second of the two 1,000 MWe units by March 2013. This is as per the new official commissioning schedules announced for the project,which has suffered an over five-month delay due to protests.
Currently,there are 20 nuclear reactors being operated by state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) that cumulatively add to a capacity of 4,780 MWe. The Department of Atomic Energy plans to ramp this up to 10,080 MWe by the year 2017 and 14,580 MWe by 2020-21.
Despite strained government finances,the Centres nuclear investment proposed for the 12th Plan envisages a cumulative investment of close to Rs 87,000 crore,of which,about Rs 64,800 crore is to be spent on new starts. This largely entail imported light-water,reactor-based projects to be set up with equipment supplies from global vendors such as Frances Areva,US firms GE-Hitachi and Toshiba-Westinghouse and Russias Atomstroyexport.