India plans to set up 20 units of indigenous PHWR
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 05, 2009, 00:38
Mumbai: India is planning to set up 20 units of indigenous 700 MW of pressurised heavy water (PHWR) type reactors and the Centre has already agreed, in principle, for four such units, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, Anil Kakodkar, said on Tuesday.

India has already developed 220MW and 540MW PHWR type nuclear reactors which are operating successfully and "it is possible to have 20 units of 700 MW plants which can run with indigenous natural uranium as well as imported low enriched uranium," Kakodkar said.

Since the uranium available in India could supply upto 10,000 MW of electricity, the ambitious 700MW PHWRs are part of the evolutionary development of indigenous design, Kakodkar said at a function here.

All these plant designs are export models and India has the Equipment Supply Chain for this kind of reactors in place with robust infrastructure. Several countries have already evinced interest to buy PHWRs from India.

Talking about international cooperation, he said we are expecting import of 40GWe between 2012 to 2020 as 'additionality' -- that is in addition to the indigenous three stage programme to reduce the power deficit of 7 GWe by 2050 (according to a study by the department in 2004).

But all these are possible only if India is able to get a chance for full recycle option of the spent fuel from the imported plants.

Currently, the US from whom India will be importing reactors upto 10,000 MW, has no full recycle option. Although France and Japan have that option, "we are trying hard to achieve this with the US. I am sure US will come around for a full recycle option soon", Kakodkar said.

India and US began talks on reprocessing of the spent fuel from imported US N-plants on Indian soil last month as per the requirement of 123 agreement and expected to complete the talks within three months to enable the import of US N-power plants to India.

Talking about the private participation in the nuclear sector, he said nuclear industry is not like a coal or gas based one.

It is a different ball game and cannot go the way Enron went. Here the issues of security and 'insider threat' are of great concern.

"Therefore, we are evolving robust security design features, which is a challenge. Under the international convention for physical protection of nuclear materials all these things are important and India is a signatory to it," he said.

"We have to go slow on that in a controlled manner," Kakodkar said.

Talking about financing the nuclear power programme, he said "the state-owned Nuclear power corporation is a cash rich company and joint ventures will be set up with NPCIL holding majority share."

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, August 05, 2009, 00:38

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