(Article) Nuclear Power in India: Future Energy Source for Development

Nuclear Power in India: Future Energy Source for Development

“When the agreement goes through, India is expected to generate an additional 25,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020, bringing total estimated nuclear power generation to 45,000 MW.”

Nuclear power is the fourth-largest source of electricity in India after thermal, hydro and renewable sources of electricity. As of 2010, India has 19 nuclear power plants in operation generating 4,560 MW while 4 other are under construction and are expected to generate an additional 2,720 MW. India is also involved in the development of fusion reactors through its participation in the ITER project. 

Since early 1990s, Russia has been a major source of nuclear fuel to India. Due to dwindling domestic uranium reserves, electricity generation from nuclear power in India declined by 12.83% from 2006 to 2008. Following a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group in September 2008 which allowed it to commence international nuclear trade, India has signed nuclear deals with several other countries including France, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Namibia, Mongolia, Argentina, Kazakhstan In February 2009, India also signed a $700million deal with Russia for the supply of 2000 tons nuclear fuel.

India now envisages to increase the contribution of nuclear power to overall electricity generation capacity from4.2%to 9%within 25 years. In 2010, India's installed nuclear power generation capacity will increase to 6,000 MW. As of 2009, India stands 9th in the world in terms of number of operational nuclear power reactors and is constructing 9more, including two EPRs being constructed by France's Areva. Indigenous atomic reactors include TAPS-3, and -4, both of which are 540MW reactors. India's $717 million fast breeder reactor project is expected to be operational by 2010.

Nuclear Power Growth in India

India, being a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has been subjected to a defacto nuclear embargo from members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) cartel. This has prevented India from obtaining commercial nuclear fuel, nuclear power plant components and services from the international market, thereby forcing India to develop its own fuel, components and services for nuclear power generation. The NSG embargo has had both negative and positive consequences for India's Nuclear Industry.

On one hand, the NSG regime has constrained India from freely importing nuclear fuel at the volume and cost levels it would like to support the country's goals of expanding its nuclear power gen- “When the agreement goes through, India is expected to generate an additional 25,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020, bringing total estimated nuclear power generation to 45,000 MW.” By: Ram Kumar Pandey eration capacity to at least 20,000 MW by 2020. Also, by precluding India from taking advantage of the economies of scale and safety innovations of the global nuclear industry, the NSG regime has driven up the capital and operating costs and damaged the achievable safety potential of Indian nuclear power plants.

On the other hand, the NSG embargo has forced the Indian government and bureaucracy to support and actively fund the development of Indian nuclear technologies and industrial capacities in all key areas required to create and maintain a domestic nuclear industry. This has resulted in the creation of a large pool of nuclear scientists, engineers and technicians that have developed new and unique innovations in the areas of Fast Breeder Reactors, Thermal Breeder Reactors, the Thorium fuel cycle, nuclear fuel reprocessing and Tritium extraction & production.

Ironically, had the NSG sanctions not been in place, it would have been far more cost effective for India to import foreign nuclear power plants and nuclear fuels than to fund the development of Indian nuclear power generation technology, building of India's own nuclear reactors, and the development of domestic uranium mining, milling and refining capacity.

The Indian nuclear power industry is expected to undergo a significant expansion in the coming years thanks in part to the passing of The Indo-US nuclear deal. This agreement will allow India to carry out trade of nuclear fuel and technologies with other countries and significantly enhance its power generation capacity. when the agreement goes through, India is expected to generate an additional 25,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020, bringing total estimated nuclear power generation to 45,000 MW.

India has already been using imported enriched uranium and are currently under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, but it has developed various aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle to support its reactors. Development of select technologies has been strongly affected by limited imports. Use of heavy water reactors has been particularly attractive for the nation because it allows Uranium to be burnt with little to no enrichment capabilities.

India has also done a great amount of work in the development of a Thorium centered fuel cycle. While Uranium deposits in the nation are limited there are much greater reserves of Thorium and it could provide hundreds of times the energy with the same mass of fuel. The fact that Thorium can theoretically be utilized in heavy water reactors has tied the development of the two. A prototype reactor that would burn Uranium-Plutonium fuel while irradiating a Thorium blanket is under construction at the Madras/ Kalpakkam Atomic Power Station.

Uranium used for the weapons program has been separate from the power program, using Uranium from indigenous reserves. This domestic reserve of 80,000 to 112,000 tons of uranium (approx 1% of global uranium reserves) is large enough to supply all of India's commercial and military reactors as well as supply all the needs of India's nuclear weapons arsenal. Currently, India's nuclear power reactors consume, at most, 478 metric tonnes of uranium per year. Even if India were quadruple its nuclear power output (and reactor base) to 20GW by 2020, nuclear power generation would only consume 2000 metric tonnes of uranium per annum.

Based on India's known commercially viable reserves of 80,000 to 112,000 tons of uranium, this represents a 40 to 50 years uranium supply for India's nuclear power reactors (note with reprocessing and breeder reactor technology, this supply could be stretched out many times over). Furthermore, the uranium requirements of India's Nuclear Arsenal are only a fifteenth (1/15) of that required for power generation (approx. 32 tonnes), meaning that India's domestic fissile material supply is more than enough to meet all needs for it strategic nuclear arsenal. Therefore, India has sufficient uranium resources to meet its strategic and power requirements for the foreseeable future.

Nuclear Power Plants

Currently, nineteen nuclear power reactors produce 4,560.00 MW (2.9% of total installed base).

Power Station Operator State Type Units Total Capacity (MW)
Kaiga NPCIL Karnataka PHWR 220x3 660
Kakrapar NPCIL Gujarat PHWR 220x2 440
Kalpakkam NPCIL Tamil Nadu PHWR 220x2 440
Narora NPCIL Uttar Pradesh PHWR 220x2 440
Rawatbhata NPCIL Rajasthan PHWR 100x1
Tarapur NPCIL Maharashtra BWR (PHWR) 160x2
      Total 19 4560

The projects under construction are:

Power Station Operator State Type Units Total Capacity (MW)
Kaiga NPCIL Karnataka PHWR 220x1 220
Kalpakkam NPCIL Tamil Nadu VVER-1000 1000x2 2000
Kalpakkam NPCIL Tamil Nadu PFBR 500x1 500
      Total 4 2720

Atomic Energy Commission of India

The Atomic Energy Commission is a governing body functioning under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. The DAE is under the direct charge of the Prime Minister. The Indian Atomic Energy Commission was first set up in August 1948 in the then Department of Scientific Research, which was created a few months earlier in June 1948. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)was set up on August 3, 1954 under the direct charge of the Prime Minister through a Presidential Order. Subsequently, in accordance with a Government Resolution dated March 1, 1958, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)was established in the Department of Atomic Energy. The then PrimeMinister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru also laid a copy of this Resolution on the table of the Lok Sabha on March 24, 1958. Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha was the first chairman of the commission.

According to the Resolution constituting the AEC, the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Atomic Energy is ex-officio Chairman of the Commission. The other Members of the AEC are appointed for each calendar year on the recommendation of the Chairman, AEC with the approval of the Prime Minister.

Salient Milestones of Atomic Energy in India

  • March. 12, 1944 : Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha writes to Sir Dorabji Tata Trust for starting Nuclear Research in India
  • December 19, 1945 : Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) Mumbai is inaugurated.
  • April 15, 1948 : Atomic Energy Act is passed
  • August 10, 1948 : Atomic Energy Commission is constituted
  • July 29,1949 : Rare Minerals Survey Unit brought under Atomic Energy Commission and named as ‘Raw Materials Division’ (RMD), with Headquarters at New Delhi. In 1958, this unit becomes Atomic Minerals Division (AMD), and later in 1974, shifts to Hyderabad. It is renamed as Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) on July 29, 1998.
  • August 18, 1950 : Indian Rare Earths Limited (IRE), owned by the Government of India and Government of Travancore, Cochine, is set up for recovering minerals, processing of rare earths compounds and Thorium - Uranium concentrates. In 1963, IRE becomes a full-fledged government undertaking under DAE
  • April 1951: Uranium Deposit at Jaduguda is discovered by AMD. Drilling operations commence in December 1951.
  • December 24, 1952 : Rare Earths Plant of IRE at Alwaye, Kerala, is dedicated to the nation and production of Rare Earths & Thorium - Uranium concentrate commences.
  • August 03, 1954 : Department of Atomic Energy is created.
  • August 01, 1955 : Thorium Plant at Trombay goes into production. Thorium Plant at Trombay is closed.
  • 1956 : AMD discovers uranium mineralisation at Umra, Rajasthan.
  • August 04, 1956 :APSARA - first research reactor in Asia, attains criticality at Trombay, Mumbai.
  • January 20, 1957 : Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) is inaugurated
  • August 19, 1957 : AEET Training School starts functioning at Trombay.
  • January 30, 1959 :Uranium Metal Plant at Trombay produces Uranium.
  • February 19, 1960 : First lot of 10 Fuel Elements for CIRUS reactor, is fabricated at Trombay
  • July 10, 1960 : CIRUS – the 40 MWt research reactor, attains criticality. After its successful refurbishment, the reactor was dedicated to the Nation on October 31, 2002.
  • January 14, 1961 : Research Reactor ZERLINA attains criticality. (It is decommissioned in 1983).
  • 1965: IRE takes over operation of Mineral Processing Unit at Manavalakurichi in TamilNadu and at Chavara in Kerala.
  • January 22, 1965 : Plutonium Plant is inaugurated at Trombay. » January 22, 1967 : AEET is named as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
  • April 11, 1967 : Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) is set up at Hyderabad for producing electronic systems, instruments and components.
  • June 1, 1967 : Power Projects Engineering Division (PPED), Mumbai is formed. The Division is subsequently converted to Nuclear Power Board on August 17, 1984.
  • October 4, 1967: Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) is established with head quarters at Jaduguda Mines in Jharkhand (then Bihar).
  • May 1968: Uranium Mill at Jaduguda, with a capacity of 1,000 TPD, commences commercial production ofMagnesium diuranate (yellow cake). Jaduguda Mine Shaft is commissioned in November
  • December 31, 1968 : Nuclear Fuel Complex is set up at Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
  • March 12, 1969 : Reactor Research Centre (RRC) starts at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. The Centre is fully established in 1971. It is named as Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) on December 18, 1985.
  • May 01, 1969 : Heavy Water Projects is constituted at Mumbai. This later becomes Heavy Water Board.
  • October 02, 1969 : Tarapur Atomic Power Station starts commercial operation.
  • 1970 : AMD hands over the Uranium Deposit at Narwapahar to UCIL.
  • September 06, 1970 : Uranium-233 is separated from irradiated Thorium
  • February 18, 1971 : Plutonium fuel for Research Reactor PURNIMA-I is fabricated at Trombay.
  • 1972 : AMD hands over the beach sand heavy mineral deposits of Chhatrapur, Orissa and Neendakara-Kayankulam, Kerala to IRE.
  • February 3, 1972 : DAE Safety Review Committee is formed.
  • May 18, 1972 : Research Reactor PURNIMA-I attains criticality.
  • November 30, 1972 : Unit-1 of Rajasthan Atomic Power Station at Rawatbhatta, near Kota, Rajasthan, begins commercial operation. Unit II goes commercial on November 1, 1980.
  • 1974: By-product Recovery Plant of UCIL at Jaduguda is commissioned.
  • May 18, 1974 : Peaceful underground Nuclear Experiment is conducted at Pokhran, Rajasthan.
  • March 1975 : Commercial production of Uranium Mineral Concentrates from Copper plant tailings at Surda, Hindustan Copper Limited commenced.
  • May 1975 : Commercial production of by-products -Molybdenumand Copper concentrates starts.
  • September 1975 : Surda Uranium Recovery Plant of UCIL is commissioned.
  • June 16, 1977 : Variable Energy Cyclotron becomes operational at Kolkata.
  • 1978 : High-sensitivity airborne spectrometric and magneto metric surveys started.
  • 1979 : AMD hands over Bhatin and Turamdih (East) uranium deposits (now in Jharkhand State) to UCIL.
  • Nov 18, 1979 : Plutonium-Uranium Mixed Oxide (MoX) fuel is fabricated at Trombay.
  • November 19, 1982 : BARC's Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing Plant at Tarapur is commissioned.
  • 1983 : Fbtr attains first criticality.
  • February 1983 : Rakha Uranium Recovery Plant of UCIL is commissioned.
  • November 15, 1983 : Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) in Mumbai is constituted.
  • 1984 : Sandstone-type uranium deposit at Domiasiat, Meghalaya is discovered.
  • January 27, 1984 : Madras Atomic Power Station - Unit I at Kalpakkam starts commercial operation. Unit II goes commercial on March 21, 1986.
  • February 19, 1984 : Centre for Advanced Technology (CAT) at Indore (Madhya Pradesh) is inaugurated.
  • March 08, 1984 : Plutonium - Uranium mixed Carbide Fuel for Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) is fabricated at Trombay.
  • May 10, 1984 : Research Reactor PURNIMAII, a Uranium-233 fuelled homogenous reactor, attains criticality.
  • 1985 : AMD hands over the Bodal uranium deposit to UCIL.
  • March 05, 1985 : Waste Immobilisation Plant (WIP) at Tarapur is commissioned. August 08, 1985 : Research Reactor DHRUVA (100 MWt) attains criticality. It attains full power on January 17, 1988. October 18, 1985 : FBTR at IGCAR attains criticality.
  • 1986 : Dredge Mining, Mineral Separation and Synthetic Rutile Plant at OSCOM, Chhatrapur, Orissa is commissioned by IRE. HERO Project at Alwaye, Kerala, is commissioned. Production is started at OSCOM.
  • October 1986 : Bhatin Mine is commissioned by UCIL and the ore is transported to Jaduguda mill for processing.
  • December 1986 : Mosaboni Uranium Recovery Plant of UCIL is commissioned.
  • 1987 : AMD hands over Turamdih (West) uranium deposits to UCIL, and beach sand deposits in Tamil Nadu to IRE.
  • September 17, 1987 : Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is formed by converting the erstwhile Nuclear Power Board.
  • 1988 : AMD hands over the Kuttumangalam and Vettumadia sand deposits, Tamil Nadu to IRE.
  • December 30, 1988 : 12 MV Pelletron Accelerator is inaugurated in Mumbai. The accelerator is a joint endeavour of BARC & TIFR.
  • 1989 : AMD Training School is inaugurated. Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT) is constituted.
  • January 3, 1989 : Regional Radiation Medicine Centre (RRMC) is inaugurated at Kolkata.
  • March 12, 1989 : Narora Atomic Power Station Unit I attains criticality. Its Unit II attains criticality on October 24, 1991.
  • 1990 : Dolostone -hosted uraniummineralisation in the western margin of Cuddapah basin is discovered. Mineral Research Development Centre (MRDC) of IRE is launched at Kollam. HERO Plant is commissioned at Alwaye. Dredge & Wet Concentrator Plant at Chavara, Kerala, is commissioned.
  • November 09, 1990 : Research Reactor PURNIMA-III, a Uranium-233 fuelled reactor, attains criticality.
  • 1991: AMD discovers uranium mineralisation at Lambapur, Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh and produces upgraded xenotime concentrate at ‘Pre-concentrate Upgradation Plant’ (PUP) at Kunkuri.
  • May 16, 1991: First ECR heavy ion source of the country becomes operational at the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre.
  • 1992 : First remotely operated radiography camera is launched. Significant heavy mineral concentration along the East Coast, Andhra Pradesh, is identified. New Thorium Plant at OSCOM, Chhattrapur, Orissa is commissioned by IRE.
  • September 03, 1992 : Kakrapar Atomic Power Station - Unit I attains criticality. Its Unit II attains criticality on January 08, 1995
  • 1993 : BARC supplies one millionth radioisotope consignment.
  • 1995 : Research Irradiator Gamma Chamber 5000 is launched by BRIT.
  • January 1995 : Narwapaharmine is inaugurated.
  • 1996 : 30kWt Kamini Reactor attains criticality. The reactor is taken to full power in September, 1997.
  • March 27, 1996 : Kalpakkam Reprocessing Plant (KARP) is cold commissioned. KARP is dedicated to the nation on September 15,1998.
  • October 20, 1996 : Kalpakkam Mini Reactor (KAMINI), with Uranium-233 fuel, attains criticality at IGCAR, Tamilnadu.
  • 1997 : AMD discovers of uraniummineralisation in brecciated limestone at Gogi, Gulbarga district, Karnataka in the Bhima basin. Microzir Plant is commissioned in Chavra, Kerala.
  • March. 31, 1997 : Rajasthan Atomic Power Station Unit-1 is re-commissioned.
  • December 1997: Jaduguda Mill is expanded to treat 2,090 tonnes ore per day. PRYNCE (95% NeodymiumOxide) Plant is commissioned at Rare Earths Division.
  • May 11 & 13, 1998 : Five underground nuclear tests are conducted at Pokhran Range, Rajasthan.
  • May 27, 1998 : Rajasthan Atomic Power Station Unit-2 is re-commissioned after enmasse replacement of coolant channels.
  • August 10, 1998 : The 500 keV industrial electron accelerator developed indigenously by the BARC is commissioned for its first phase of operation. Ammonium diuranate (ADU) production commences at Rare Earths Division of IRE at Alwaye, Kerala.
  • April 22, 1999 : 450 MeV Synchrotron Radiation Source Indus-1 achieves electron beam current of 113 milli-ampere superceding the design value of 100 milli-ampere.
  • July 1999 : Solid Storage and Surveillance Facility (S3F) is commissioned at Tarapur. September 24, 1999 : Unit-2 of Kaiga Atomic Power Station attains criticality. It is synchronised to the grid on December 02, 1999, and becomes commercial on March 16, 2000.
  • December 24, 1999 : Unit-3 of Rajasthan Atomic Power Station attains criticality. It is synchronised to the grid on March 10, 2000, and becomes commercial on June 2, 2000.
  • January 1, 2000 : BRIT's Radiation Processing Plant at Vashi, Navi Mumbai is commissioned. 2000 : Boron Enrichment Plant is commissioned at IGCAR, Kalpakkam.
  • March 8, 2000 : Tarapur Atomic Power Project –3&4 rises up.
  • March, 2000 & May 2000 : First concrete pour of Unit-3 and Unit-4 of Tarapur Atomic Power Project-3 & 4.
  • April 21, 2000 : Folded Tandem Ion Accelerator (FOTIA) at Trombay delivers first beamon target.
  • September 26, 2000 : Unit-1 of Kaiga Atomic Power station attains criticality. It synchronises to the grid on October 12, 2000.
  • November 03, 2000 : Unit-4 of Rajasthan Atomic Power station attains criticality. It creates history by synchronising with the grid within a period of 14 days on November 17, 2000. The unit becomes commercial on December 23, 2000.
  • November 16, 2000 : Unit - 1 of Kaiga Atomic Power Station becomes commercial. 2001 : FBTR fuel reaches burn up of 100,000MWd/ T.
  • March 18, 2001: Units 3& 4 of Rajasthan Atomic Power Stations dedicated to the nation.
  • February 12, 2002 : India signs the biggest contract with the Russian Federation for the Nuclear Power Station at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu. March
  • 30 & May 10, 2002 : First pours of concrete respectively of Unit-3 and Unit-4 of Kaiga Atomic Power Project 3 & 4.
  • March 31, 2002 : First pour of concrete of Units 1&2 of Kudankulam Atomic Power Project.
  • September 18, 2002 : First pour of concrete of Unit-5 of Rajasthan Atomic Power Project 5 & 6
  • October 31, 2002 :Waste Immobilisation Plant and Uranium-Thorium Separation Plant at (both at Trombay), and the Radiation Processing Plant Krushak at Lasalgaon, district Nasik, Maharashtra, are dedicated to the Nation.
  • November 2002 : UCIL's Turamdih Mine, Jharkhand is inaugurated and Technology Demonstration Pilot Plant becomes operational at Jaduguda.
  • 2003 : 1.7 MeV Tandetron Accelerator and the demo facility LeadMini Cell (LMC), for reprocessing of FBTR carbide fuel on lab scale, are commissioned at IGCAR.
  • 06-March-2005 : India's first 540MWe Nuclear Power Reactor Tarapur Unit 4 Attains Criticality.
  • 04-June-2005 : TAPS 4 synchronised to the grid

IAEA: Atoms For Peace

The IAEA is the world´s center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s "Atoms for Peace" organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

Organizational Profile

The IAEA Secretariat is headquartered at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria. Operational liaison and regional offices are located in Geneva, Switzerland; New York, USA; Toronto, Canada; and Tokyo, Japan. The IAEA runs or supports research centers and scientific laboratories in Vienna and Seibersdorf, Austria; Monaco; and Trieste, Italy.

The IAEA Secretariat is a team of 2200 multi-disciplinary professional and support staff from more than 90 countries. The Agency is led by Director General Yukiya Amano and six Deputy Directors General who head the major departments.

IAEA programmes and budgets are set through decisions of its policymaking bodies - the 35-member Board of Governors and the General Conference of all Member States. Reports on IAEA activities are submitted periodically or as cases warrant to the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly.

IAEA financial resources include the regular budget and voluntary contributions. The Regular Budget for 2008 amounts to € 277 million. The target for voluntary contributions to the Technical Cooperation Fund for 2008 is $80 million.

IAEA Mission And Programmes

The IAEA´s mission is guided by the interests and needs of Member States, strategic plans and the vision embodied in the IAEA Statute. Three main  pillars - or areas of work - underpin the IAEA´s mission: Safety and Security; Science and Technology; and Safeguards and Verification.

Relationship with United Nations

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