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Indian states vie for nuclear power plants

To generate 40,000 MW power, the country plans to have 62 nuclear reactors by 2025 as against 16 reactors currently.

india Updated: May 24, 2006 00:01 IST

As India plans to increase its civil nuclear power generation, a number of states are in the race for locating nuclear plants, a top Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCI) official said in Bangalore on Tuesday.

"While we are on the lookout for suitable sites in the coastal states to set up new plants for enhancing nuclear power generation, a few inland states have also come forward to offer sites to build such plants," NPCI chairman and managing director SK Jain told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Bangalore.

Over the next three months, the state-owned NPCI will evaluate various sites in the coastal and inland states across the country for shortlisting some of them.

The coastal states vying for the projects are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa and West Bengal. The inland states are Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

"As part of the new civilian nuclear strategy, we propose to increase the power generation to 40,000 MW over the next two decades. We have initiated exploratory discussions with suppliers in the US, France and Russia for importing 20 reactors in the light of the recent Indo-US civilian nuclear deal," Jain said.

With indigenous resources such as uranium deposits and plutonium driven fast breeder reactors, the country will be able to produce about 15,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020.

"Beyond that, we will have to import nuclear fuel from the US and other countries to augment our power generation," Jain said after receiving the first fuelling head machine from Avasarala Technologies Ltd for installation in the fifth and sixth units of the Rajasthan atomic power project.

The sophisticated equipment will facilitate loading of fresh fuel into the reactor and for discharge of spent fuel to fuel transfer system without human intervention.

To generate 40,000 MW power, the country plans to have 62 nuclear reactors by 2025 as against 16 reactors currently generating 3,360 MW. With six more reactors coming up by 2008, the nuclear power generation will double up to 7,000 MW.

"The share of nuclear energy in total power production will increase to 20 per cent by 2025 from the current three per cent and help the economy to grow at the projected GDP rate of 8-10 per cent annually," Jain pointed out.

Without specifying the nuclear suppliers, Jain said the company had been offered reactors in the range of 1,000 MW, 1,350 MW and 1,650 MW for importing in a phased manner.

"Negotiations are on with the suppliers to decide whether to implement the projects on a turn-key basis or source some of the components from Indian firms," Jain said.

The cash-rich NPCI plans to fund the upcoming projects from its internal accruals at a cost of Rs 50 million for each megawatt for adding another 10,000 MW.

The company will commission the first 500 MW fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu by 2010.

"India will be the first country to try the fast breeder route with plutonium as fuel. As the potential through this route is a whopping 300,000 MW, we plan to set up a series of fast breeder reactors at seven sites in the coming years," Jain added.

First Published: May 24, 2006 00:01 IST