India plans to import light water reactors from Russia, the US and France to boost its nuclear energy generating capacity to 50,000-60,000 MW by 2030, former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman M.R. Srinivasan has said.
Delivering the first Homi Sethna Memorial Lecture on ‘Future of Nuclear Power After Fukushima’ here Wednesday evening, the nuclear scientist said India would need around 1,300 GW of electricity by 2052.
Forty percent of this requirement is expected to come from coal-based plants, 40 percent from nuclear facilities and 20 percent from renewable sources like solar or wind, he said.
The present power generating capacity of India’s 20 nuclear units is small, most of them having a capacity of up to 220 MW. The indigenously designed Tarapur 3&4 are the largest with a capacity of 540 MW, he said.
In a couple of months, the first 1,000 MW nuclear plant, built with Russian help, will start at Kundankulam, Tamil Nadu.
In the last one year, India started the construction of four indigenously-designed reactors of 700 MW each — two each at Kakrapar, Gujarat, and Rawatbhata, Rajasthan.
There are plans to have similar reactors in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and possibly even at Kaiga, Karnataka, Srinivasan said.
“China has the biggest nuclear plant construction programme at present,” Srinivasan said. “While they will review their safety practices after the Japanese experience, they will probably continue to develop nuclear power in a big way.”
Since availability of electricity is a serious constraint for both industry and agriculture, India will build 800 MW supercritical coal-fired units for many more years. “But if we have to cut down carbon emissions, we must build a significant nuclear capacity,” he said.
India is currently producing a small quantity of enriched uranium. “We expect to be in a position to build a commercial uranium enrichment plant between 2020 and 2030,” Srinivasan said.
Explaining the slow-paced nuclear power development in India, Srinivasan said the country had limited uranium. “Not only is the quantity small, the ore concentration is low, making extraction more costly here,” he said.