Nuclear Power in India

By pjain      Published Aug. 2, 2020, 2:02 a.m. in blog Invest   

India Power Economics -- XFR

Corruption in Electric Power 2011-2018

  • Another issue was the VAST CORRUPTION in power sector, where Indian public sector banks provided billions of dollars in loans to import (mainly GE obsolete Coal power plants) probably at highly inflated prices by scions of "Congress connected" plutocrats. Dozens of plants went up, without clear coal supply or power contracts. Made worse was the state distribution grids were both inefficient and the state control over electric power and "free or subsidised" agricultural power made it hard for power plants to recover cost of capital. No wonder that many of these went belly up - all at the cost of the banks creating billions in NPAs.

Indian Nuclear Power and Power Plants

  • 2006 to 2008 Nuclear power steady at 18 TWh till 2006, but fell for next 4 years down to 15-16 TWh. This was due to dwindling domestic uranium reserves, electricity generation from nuclear power in India declined by 12.83%.

  • 2008 Sep a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which allowed it to commence international nuclear trade.

  • 2010 Oct 23 TWh - India drew up a plan to reach a nuclear power capacity of 63 GW in 2032 to be aided by deal between BushJr and Manmohan Sing. However after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and protests, actual achieved production capacity was scaled back.

  • 2010 to 2015 - Nuclear power generation doubled first to 23 TWh in 2010, then to 34 in 2014 upto peak of 38.5 in 2015 TWh.

  • 2017 35 TWh and supplied 3.22% of Indian electricity.

  • 2018 March India has 22 nuclear reactors in operation in 7 nuclear power plants, with a total installed capacity of 6,780 MW.

  • 2022 7 more reactors are under construction with a combined generation capacity of 4,300 MW.

Nuclear Power Plants

  • Currently Operating Nuclear Reactors - all on Uranium
Station Operator State Type Units Total capacity(MW)
Kaiga NPCIL Karnataka PHWR 220 × 4 880
Kakrapar NPCIL Gujarat IPHWR-700 220 × 2 700 × 1 1140
Kudankulam NPCIL Tamil Nadu VVER-1000 1000 × 2 2,000
Kalpakkam Madras NPCIL Tamil Nadu PHWR 220 × 2 440
Narora NPCIL Uttar Pradesh PHWR 220 × 2 440
Rajasthan NPCIL Rajasthan PHWR 100 × 1\200 x 1\220 × 4 1,080
Tarapur NPCIL Maharashtra BWR\PHWR 160 x 2\540 × 2 1,400
  • Under Construction

    • Kalpakkam Madras - PFBR 500x1 MW - 2020
    • Kakrapar IPHWR-700 700x1 MW - 2022
    • Gorakhpur Haryana IPHWR-700, 700x2 MW - 2025
    • Rajasthan unit 7/8, IPHWR-700, 700x2 MW - 2022
    • Kudankulam TN VVER-1000x2 MW - 2026
  • Planned Plants

Technology and Types of Reactors

IPHWR-700 Uranium Indian designed pressurized heavy-water reactor

The IPHWR-700 is an Indian pressurized heavy-water reactor designed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. It is a Generation III+ reactor developed from earlier 220 MW and 540 MW designs and can generate 700 MW of electricity.

VVER-1000 Uranium

The water-water energetic reactor (WWER), or VVER is a series of pressurized water reactor designs originally developed in the Soviet Union, and now Russia, by OKB Gidropress. The idea of a reactor was proposed at the Kurchatov Institute by Savely Moiseevich Feinberg. VVER were originally developed before the 1970s, and have been continually updated. As a result, the name VVER is associated with a wide variety of reactor designs spanning from generation I reactors to modern generation III+ reactor designs. Power output ranges from 70 to 1300 MWe, with designs of up to 1700 MWe in development. The first prototype VVER-210 was built at the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant.

EPR Uranium French/Siemens - 3rd Gen Pressurized Water - 1650 MW multiple

The EPR is a third generation pressurized water reactor design. It has been designed and developed mainly by Framatome and Électricité de France (EDF) in France, and Siemens in Germany. In Europe this reactor design was called European Pressurised Reactor, and the internationalised name was Evolutionary Power Reactor, but it is now simply named EPR.

AP1000 Uranium - Pressurized Water, Passive Safety to lower Capex - 1100 MW multiple

The AP1000 is a nuclear power plant designed and sold by Westinghouse Electric Company. The plant is a pressurized water reactor with improved use of passive nuclear safety and many design features intended to lower its capital cost and improve its economics.

Thorium Reactor Types

PFBR 500 Mw at Kalpakkam

The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, India and originally planned to be operated by Bhavini produce commercial power in 2020.

Bhavini or the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI) is a wholly owned Enterprise of Government of India under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy incorporated on 22 October 2003 as Public Limited Company under the companies act, 1956 with the objective of constructing and commissioning the first 500 MWe Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu and to pursue construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance of subsequent Fast Breeder Reactors for generation of electricity in pursuance of the schemes and programmes of Government of India under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962. BHAVINI is currently constructing a 500MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam, 70 km from Chennai.

The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor. The facility builds on the decades of experience gained from operating the lower power Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR). Originally planned to be commissioned in 2012, the construction of the reactor suffered from multiple delays. As of February 2019, criticality is planned to be achieved in 2020.

AHWR Thorium Stage 3 Indian latest

The advanced heavy-water reactor (AHWR) is the latest Indian design for a next-generation nuclear reactor that burns thorium in its fuel core. It is slated to form the third stage in India's three-stage fuel-cycle plan. This phase of the fuel cycle plan is supposed to be built starting with a 300MWe prototype in 2016.

Planned at Tarapur, but as of 2018 construction has not started and a firm date has not be set.

FBR-600 Fast Breeder Thorium Reactor

The Bhavini FBR reactor in Madras, TN is planned for a 600 MW capacity

India Nuclear R&D

  • Nuclear energy R&D has been a highly sensitive area.

How did Britain and France get to be Nuclear powers - likely helped greatly by USA billions of dollars spent.

Russia and Israel probably used espionage to gain insights into Atomic energy and make real weapons - not just theoretical doodles on brainy yellow pads. Similarly Russia helped China go nuclear.

In fact all the UN Security Council members were Nuclear powers, and they used the Non-Proliferation Treaty to cajole and monopolize from anyone else from joining this exclusive club.

But in India's case, all the powers actively blocked in all ways possible nuclear R&D, access to fissionable materials, essential equipment, even critical metals, etc.

  • In 1930s to 1940s, several Indian physicists, notably Daulat Singh Kothari, Meghnad Saha, Homi J. Bhabha and R. S. Krishnan, conducted pioneering research in nuclear physics.

  • In 1944, Homi J. Bhabha, a distinguished nuclear physicist who had established a research school at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

  • 1945 Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) was inaugurated in Mumbai. Bhabha had requested funds from distant cousin J. R. D. Tata, the chairman of the Tata Group to establish a research institute of fundamental physics, with special reference to cosmic rays and nuclear physics.

  • 1946 March the CSIR setup an Atomic Research Committee under Bhabha's leadership to explore India's atomic energy resources. But it took till Jan 1949 for the new AEC to get separation from the bureaucratic CSIR to be directly under PMO, allowing the high security and rapid development of R&D

  • 1954 Jan, the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) was established by the Atomic Energy Commission to consolidate all nuclear reactor research and technology-related developments; AEET was renamed the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1967, after Bhabha's death.

  • May 1956, construction began at Trombay on a small "training" reactor and a uranium metal plant and a fuel element fabrication facility for the research reactors; the uranium plant came into operation in January 1959, followed by the fuel element facility in February 1960.

World anxious to supply Nuclear Reactors to India

Canada got ball rolling with small Research Nuclear Reactors

France's Areva first supplier of Commercial Nuclear Reactors

2010 visit of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to India, framework agreements were signed for the setting up two third-generation EPR reactors of 1650 MW each at Jaitapur, Maharashtra by the French company Areva. The deal caters for the first set of two of six planned reactors and the supply of nuclear fuel for 25 years. The contract and pricing is yet to be finalised. Construction is unlikely to start before 2014 because of regulatory issues and difficulty in sourcing major components from Japan due to India not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


In November 2016 Japan signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with India. Japanese nuclear plant builders saw this as potential lifeline given that domestic orders had ended following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and India is proposing to build about 20 new reactors over the next decade.[93]


1988 Russia has an ongoing agreement with India regarding establishing of two VVER 1000 MW reactors (water-cooled water-moderated light water power reactors) at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu.

2008 agreements signed for an additional four third generation VVER-1200 reactors of capacity 1170 MW each.

Russia has assisted in India’s efforts to design a nuclear plant for its nuclear submarine.

2009, the Russians stated that Russia would not agree to curbs on export of sensitive technology to India and by Dec 2009 Russia gave India freedom to proceed with the closed fuel cycle, which includes mining, preparation of the fuel for use in reactors, and reprocessing of spent fuel.

2018 agreement to construct 6 nuclear reactors from state Rosatom's third-generation VVER reactors. The agreement is not a firm contract, but rather an agreement to work toward a firm contract

USA comes around

The nuclear agreement with USA led to India issuing a Letter of Intent for purchasing 10,000 MW from the USA but liability concerns and a few other issues are preventing further progress on the issue.

Regulation - Indian Liability Law

However, liability concerns and a few other issues are preventing further progress on the issue. Experts say that India's nuclear liability law discourages foreign nuclear companies. This law gives accident victims the right to seek damages from plant suppliers in the event of a mishap.

This law has deterred US players like General Electric and Westinghouse Electric, a US-based unit of Toshiba, with companies asking for further clarification on compensation liability for private operators.

India Nuclear Materials - Uranium

The reality is that India's domestic uranium reserves are small and the country is dependent on uranium imports to fuel its nuclear power industry. Since early 1990s, Russia has been a major supplier of nuclear fuel to India.

Uranium used for the weapons programme has been separated from the power programme, 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 tonnes of uranium per year. Even if India were quadruple its nuclear power output (and reactor base) to 20 GW by 2020, nuclear power generation would only consume 2000 tonnes of uranium per annum.

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.

Timeline of Uranium Resources

  • 1946 GSI was tasked with discovering nuclear and rare earths in India.

  • In 1950, the government announced it would purchase all available stocks of uranium and beryllium minerals and ores, and declared large rewards for any significant discoveries of the same.

  • 2006 to 2008 Due to dwindling domestic uranium reserves,[56] electricity generation from nuclear power in India declined by 12.83%.

  • 2008 Sep a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which allowed it to commence international nuclear trade. India is the only known country with nuclear weapons which is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but is still allowed to carry out nuclear commerce with the rest of the world.[

  • India has signed bilateral deals on civilian nuclear energy technology cooperation with several other countries, including France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and South Korea. India has also uranium supply agreements with Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia.

  • An Indian private company won a uranium exploration contract in Niger.

  • 2011 March large deposits of uranium were discovered in the Tummalapalle belt in Andhra Pradesh by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) of India. The Tummalapalle belt uranium reserves promises to be one of the world's top 20 uranium reserves discoveries. 44,000 tonnes of natural uranium have been discovered in the belt so far, which is estimated to have three times that amount.

  • 2011 more Uranium deposits discovered in the Bhima basin in Karnataka. The natural uranium deposits of the Bhima basin has better grade of natural uranium ore, even though it is smaller than the Tummalapalle belt.

India Nuclear Materials - Thorium

  • 1901, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) had recognised India as potentially having significant deposits of radioactive ores, including pitchblende, uranium and thorianite.

  • 1946 Travancore University and Kingdom recommended developing the state's resources of monazite, a valuable thorium ore, and ilmenite, with regard to their applications in atomic energy.

  • In 2012+ India has shown increased interest in thorium fuels and fuel cycles because of large deposits of thorium (518,000 tonnes) in the form of monazite in beach sands as compared to very modest reserves of low-grade uranium (92,000 tonnes).

KEY PROBLEM: Thorium reactor R&D is long behind Uranium

The long-term goal of India's nuclear program has been to develop an advanced heavy-water thorium cycle.

  1. The first stage of this employs the pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) fueled by natural uranium, and light water reactors, which produce plutonium incidentally to their prime purpose of electricity generation.

  2. The second stage uses fast neutron reactors burning the plutonium with the blanket around the core having uranium as well as thorium, so that further plutonium (ideally high-fissile Pu) is produced as well as U-233. The Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD) has identified almost 12 million tonnes of monazite resources (typically with 6-7% thorium).

  3. BREEDERS. In stage 3, Advanced Heavy Water Reactors (AHWR) would burn thorium-plutonium fuels in such a manner that breeds U-233 which can eventually be used as a self-sustaining fissile driver for a fleet of breeding AHWRs.

  4. An alternative stage 3 is molten salt breeder reactors (MSBR), which are believed to be another possible option for eventual large-scale deployment.

In June 2014, Kudankulam-1 became the single largest power generating unit in India (1000 MWe).


There are no comments yet

Add new comment

Similar posts

PV India: Makers, Technology, Strategies - ToClean

Shared Mobility

India Roads most Dangerous in the world NEW

Space Junk Problem and Solutions