(IGP) IAS Pre: GS - Geography - Indian Geography General: Nuclear Energy

Indian Geography General
Nuclear Energy



  • Nuclear energy contributes about 4.1% of power generation in India. The share of nuclear energy is expected to reach 9% by 2035
  • Currently, there are 6 nuclear power plants generating about 4120 MW Power Station
Power Station State Type Capacity (MW)
Kaiga Karnataka PHWR 660
Kakrapar Gujarat PHWR 440
Kalpakka Tamil Nadu PHWR 440
Narora Uttar Prdesh PHWR 440
Rawatbhata Rajasthan PHWR 740
Tarapur Maharashtra BWR, PHWR 1400
  • The largest nuclear power station in India is located in Tarapur,Maharastra. The largest research reactor is the Dhruva at the Babha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai
  • Currently India uses two types of reactors for power production: Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR), Boiling Water Reactor (BWR). Additionally the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor is under experiments at the Madras Kalpakkam
  • The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) is the sole company authorised to set up nuclear power plants in India

Nuclear power plants in India
Nuclear power projects under construction

Power Station State Type Capacity (MW)
Kaiga Karnataka PHWR 220
Kakrapar Gujarat PHWR 440
Kalpakka Tamil Nadu PHWR 2000
Narora Uttar Prdesh PHWR 500
Rawatbhata Rajasthan PHWR 740
Tarapur Maharashtra BWR, PHWR 1400

Availability of nuclear materials

  • Australia has the largest reserves of Uraniumin the world. Canada, which has the second largest reserves, is the largest exporter of Uranium
  • India has limited availability of Uranium reserves in the country (about 1% of world availability)
  • The primary source of Uranium in India are the Jaduguda mines in Jharkhand. Uranium is extracted in the form of “Yellow Cake”
  • However, Thorium is widely available in the world. Worldwide, Thorium is about three times as aboundant Uanium
  • India has about 25% of the world’s reserves of Thorium
  • In India, Throiumis commonly found in the formof the meneralMonazite in the beach sands of Kerala and Tamil Nadu
  • The waiver of restrictions on nuclear fuel supply by the Nuclear Suppliers Group in Sep 2008 has increased India’s opportunities for importing nuclear fuel (esp. Uranium)
  • India now has nuclear supply agreements with France (Sep 2008), the US (Sep 2008), the EU Nov 2009), Canada (Nov 2009) and Russia (Dec 2009)

Departmemtn of Atomic Energy

  • The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) functions directly under the Prime Minister. The Department was established in 1958
  • The DAE is responsible for all nuclear technology in India, including nuclear power and nuclear researc
  • Australia has the largest reserves of Uraniumin the world. Canada, which has the second largest
  • The Secretary, Dept. of Atomic Energy is the ex-officeio Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. Other members of the AEC include the Foreign Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary

India’s three-stage nuclear power programme

  • Due to limited availability of Ranium and the restrictions on nuclear fuel export, India has had to develop ingenious technologies to make optimal use of available minerals
  • Subsequently, India has developed a three-stage programme to make use of uranium as well as thoriu
  • Stage II Fast Breeder Reactor: the PHWR uses Uranium as fuel and produces Plutonium-239 as a by-product
  • Stage II Fast breader Reactor: uses Plutonium-239 and Thorium-239 as fuel and produces Uranium- 233
  • Stage III advanced Heavy Water Reactor: would use Thorium-232 and Uranium-233 as fuels. Currently under development at the BARC


  • All bodies listed below function under the Department of Atomic Energy unless otherwise noted
    Heavy Water Board
    Established 1969, headquarters Mumbai
  • Responsible for production of heavy water (D2O)
  • Operates six heavy water plants in the country:
    • Kota (Rajasthan)
    • Baroda (Gujarat)
    • Hazira (Gujarat)
    • Thal (Maharashtra)
    • Talcher (Orissa)
    • Munuguru (Andhra Pradesh)
    • Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu)
  • India is the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy water
  • India has exported heavy water to South Korea in 2002-2003

Nuclear Fuel Comlex

  • Established 1971, location Hyderabad
  • Responsible for enrichment and supply of nuclear fuel for all nuclear power plants in the country
  • Also responsible for manufacturer of reactor core components
  • The NFC processes both Uranium concentrates (for nuclear fuel) and Zirconium (for reactor components)

UraniumCorporation of India Ltd.

  • Established 1967, headquarters Singhbhum (Jharkhand)
  • Responsbile for extraction and processing of uranium
  • Operates five uranium mines and two processing plants
  • All five uranium mines are located in Singhbum district of Jharkhand
    • Jaduguda mine - oldest mine, commissioned 1967
    • Bhatin mine
    • Narwapahar mine -0 latest mine, commissioned 1995
    • Turamdih mine
    • Banduhurang mine - only open pit uranium min
  • India produces about 300 tonnes a year of uranium

Indian Rare Earths Ltd.

  • Established 1950, headquarters Mumbai
  • Responsible for extraction of minerals from beach sands
  • It primary responsibility is the extraction of Thrium(in the formof monazite) for use in nuclear industry
  • Operates fourmineral extraction units
    • Aluva (Kerala)
    • Chavara (Kerala)
    • Manavalakurichi (Tamil Nadu)
    • Chatrapur Orissa)

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)

  • Established as the Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay in 1957. Located in Mumbai
  • It is India’s first and primary nuclear research facility
  • Site of CIRUS reactor (Canada-India-US Research)
  • Developed Dhruva reactor (1958) - largest research reactor in the country

Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR)

  • Established 1971, located at Kalpakkam (near Chennai)
  • Site of Fast Brreeder Test Reactor (FBTR), the first raactor in the world to use Plutonium (70%) Uranium (30%) Carbide fuel. The Plutonium for the reactor comes from spent fuel from the power plant on site
  • Developed KAMINI (Kalpakkam Mini) reactor in 1996, tghe only reactor in the world that uses Uranium-233 as fuel
  • Currently, construction of 500 MWPrototype Fast Breeder Reactor is under progress

Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC)

  • Established 1977, located Kolkata
  • Operates the first cyclotron in India
  • Provides protons, deuterons, alpha particles and heavy ion beams to other institutions in the country

Institute for Plasma Research

  • Established 1986, located in Gandhinagar, Gujarat
  • Functions under the Department of Atomic Energy
  • The IPR is involved in research of various aspects of plasma science
  • It is the biggest plasma physics organisation in India
  • The IPR was responsible for developing the ADITYA tokamak in 1989. A tokamak is a magnetic confinement fusion device used for thermonuclear fusion power
  • The IPR is a major contributor to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (TER) in Cadarache, France. Expected to be operational by 2016, the ITER is the first large scale research incentive on nuclear fusion based power plants




Reactor Fuel Moderator Coolant Notes
water reactor
Light water
(demineralised water)
Light water PWR, BWRand Supercritical water reactors are 3 types of Light Water Reactors PWR is compact and high power and so used comonly in aircraft carriers, submarines etc PWR is the oldest,most widely used reactor for power generation. In PWR, the water is maintained at high pressure such that it does not boil even at high temperatures
Pressurised Heavy Water
Reactor (PHWR)
Heavy water
Heavy water Uses natural uneriched uranium Lower fuel costs No enrichment required Needs
large quantities of fuel
Boiling water reactor (BWR) Enriched
Light water Light water Second most common type of reactor for power plants (after PWR) Water is allowed to boil Simple, uncomplicated design Lower risk, longer lifetime than PWR
Fast Breader Reactor (FBR) Enriched
Also nonfissile Uranium 238
Nomoderator Liquid metal (usually kuqyud Sodium) Breeds fuel by producingmore fissile material than it consumes Reactor core consists of Plutonim and Uranium Reactor core is surrounded by non-fissile Uranium-238 which gets converted into fissile Pu-239 by captruring fast neutrons Since fast neutrons are specifically desired to bombard the U-238, no moderator is required
Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) Thorium Heavy water Amorphous carbon Bioling water Currently under development at BARC Designed to use Thorium as fuel

Click Here to Download full Chapter

Click Here for Nuclear Energy MCQ