In a recently released report by the World Nuclear Association, the Indian government has put renewed vigour into nuclear power plans as part of its infrastructure development programme, with negotiations to unlock long-standing agreements with French, Russian and US companies.
“Unit 2 of the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu is nearing commissioning and a prototype fast breeder reactor is nearing completion at Kalpakkam, near Chennai,” the report noted.
India nuclear power plants
According to Daily News Analysis, the Indian government approved new nuclear plants at 10 sites in nine states, according to the report titled, World Nuclear Performance report 2016.
“Those for indigenous pressurised heavy water reactor are at Gorakhpur in Haryana’s Fatehabad; Chutka and Bhimpur in Madhya Pradesh; Kaiga in Karnataka; and Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan,” DNA reported.
Adding: “Those for plants with foreign cooperation are Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu; in Jaitapur in Maharashtra; Chhaya Mithi Virdhi in Gujarat; Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh and Haripur in West Bengal, though this location has been in doubt. In addition, two 600 MWe fast breeder reactors are proposed at Kalpakkam.”
The report highlighted that Unit 2 of the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu was completed in 2015, with the unit continuing in mid-2016, with a prototype fast breeder reactor is nearing completion at Kalpakkam.
According to the report, demonstration fast neutron reactors (FNRs) are currently under construction in India.
New build is led mostly by industrialising countries, which have enjoyed high levels of economic growth with an accompanying increase in energy demand. Four countries are expected to account for 70% of reactors commissioned in the period to 2030: China, Russia, India and South Korea.
Energy mix to include coal
Earlier this month, Greenpeace India said that the country’s plans to expand its existing coal fleet could have dampening effects on the economy.
The environmental organisation said in a recently released report, that these plants will remain idle due to huge overcapacity in the coal power sector, which they explained “is already causing a humongous waste of capital which could be better used in many other economic sectors.
“Project lenders and banks are still feeling the impact of reckless lending to the coal power sector in the 2008/2012 period, with many projects either abandoned, delayed or struggling for viability.”
The non-governmental organisation added: “The lessons of the past must be heeded if we are to avoid an even more disastrous repeat.”
Coal fleet vs. Clean energy
According to the report, India has received praise in the international community for its pledges on carbon intensity reduction and ambitious renewable energy goals: “Failure to meet these goals will imply a serious loss of face.”
The organisation explained: “Renewables have significant potential external, environmental benefits over coal, in terms of reduced air and water pollution and consumption, deforestation, displacement of communities etc.
“With a 10 or 20 year time horizon, it is becoming clear that coal is no longer the least-cost option in terms of providing electricity to the consumer, with solar PV and wind now already cheaper (in several cases) than coal, and with costs for renewables continuing to fall as costs for coal continue to rise.”