Nuclear Power Push Gains Traction As NTPC Embarks On New Plants
As per media reports, NTPC is looking to develop atomic plant in Madhya Pradesh.
Earlier this month, NTPC announced that it's seeking to make its nuclear power debut with two reactors at Gorakhpur in the northern state of Haryana.
National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC), India's largest power producer, is looking to develop another massive nuclear project just weeks after announcing its entry into the sector.
Anushakti Vidhyut Nigam Limited (ASHVINI) - a joint venture company between NTPC and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), is in advanced talks with the government to develop two 700-megawatt reactors in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, said a Bloomberg report.
The proposal comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this month from NTPC, which said it's seeking to make its nuclear power debut with two reactors at Gorakhpur in the northern state of Haryana.
Before 2015, only two Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) – NPCIL and Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), which are under the administrative control of Department of Atomic Energy, were authorised to set up nuclear power plants in the country.
The government amended the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, in 2015 to enable Joint Ventures (JVs) of NPCIL and Public Sector companies to set up nuclear power projects.
The main objective of enabling the JVs is to achieve expansion of nuclear power capacity in the country.
Towards this end, the NPCIL has formed joint Ventures with three public sector majors, namely, NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO).
The joint ventures incorporated are - ASHVINI (NPCIL and NTPC in 51:49 equity), NPCIL-Indian Oil Nuclear Energy Corporation Limited (NPCIL and IOCL in 74:26 equity) and NPCIL-Nalco Power Company Limited (NPCIL- NALCO).
Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana (GHAVP) is situated in the Fatehabad district of Haryana state.
The nuclear power project at Gorakhpur site in Haryana is planned to be implemented in two phases, viz. GHAVP-1 and 2 (2X700 MW) and GHAVP-3 and 4 (2X700MW).
ASHVINI was to be allocated the 2x700 MW GHAVP project. But due to delays in the amendment to the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 which did not allow joint ventures of PSUs for the building nuclear power plants, NPCIL decided to go ahead and build the plant itself.
The Unit 1 and 2 of GHAVP, is under construction with all foundation piles completed and purchase orders for major packages being placed.
In respect of GHAVP Unit 3 and 4, pre-project activities at site and placement of orders for long delivery equipment are in progress. It is in respect of Unit 3 and 4 which, NTPC is keen on setting up through its JV with NPCIL.
Domestic Nuclear Programme
India is the only developing nation to have indigenously developed, demonstrated and deployed nuclear reactors for electricity generation.
The present installed nuclear power capacity in the country is 6780 MW which is barely 1.7 per cent of its total generation fleet and comprises of 22 operational nuclear power reactors.
One 700 MW reactor at Kakrapar in Gujarat was connected to the grid on 10 January 2021, but it is yet to start commercial operations.
At present, there are eleven nuclear power reactors totalling 8700 MW capacity at various stages of construction. This includes a 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), and ten reactors with a total capacity of 8200 MW.
BHAVINI, a PSU under Department of Atomic Energy, is currently constructing a 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu.
The other projects under construction include four Light Water Reactors (LWR) at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), totalling 4,000 MW and six indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) reactors, each of 700 MW at Kakrapar in Gujarat, Rawatbhata in Rajasthan and Gorakhpur in Haryana.
In addition to projects presently under construction (8700 MW), the government accorded administrative approval and financial sanction in June 2017 for setting up ten indigenous PHWRs reactors of 700 MW capacity each in fleet mode with a total cost of Rs 105,000 crore.
Under the fleet mode, a nuclear power plant is expected to be built over a period of five years from the first pour of concrete.
The projects to be taken in fleet mode include GHAVP Unit 3 and 4 at Gorakhpur in Haryana; Kaiga Unit 5 and 6 at Kaiga in Karnataka; Chutka Madhya Pradesh Atomic Power Project (CMPAPP) Unit 1 and 2 at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh and Mahi Banswara Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (MBRAPP) Units 1 to 4 at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan.
Thus, 21 nuclear power reactors, with an installed capacity of 15,700 MW are under implementation, envisaged for progressive completion by the year 2031.
On the progressive completion of projects under construction and accorded sanction, the installed nuclear power capacity is expected to reach 22,480 MW by the year 2031.
The government has also accorded 'In-Principle' approval for five new sites for locating nuclear power plants in future. The new sites include Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, MithiVirdi in Gujarat, Haripur in West Bengal and Bhimpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Entry of private player
In May 2020, while unveiling the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' economic package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced limited reforms in the atomic energy sector.
The reforms included inviting private sector participation in the consumer application of atomic energy in two areas - production of medical isotopes for cancer treatment and use of irradiation technology for food preservation.
In addition to this, Sitharaman also announced setting up of Technology Development cum Incubation Centres for fostering synergy between research facilities and tech-entrepreneurs.
Given the strategic importance of the sector, the government has kept the private player out of the ambit of nuclear power generation.
Private players participate in the nuclear power sector by providing core reactor components, equipment, materials, and services in areas that include construction, fabrication, and erection of equipment, piping, electrical, instrumentation, and consultancy, auxiliary and logistical services.
The present policy (Consolidated FDI Policy of Government) puts atomic energy in the list of prohibited sectors.
However, there is no restriction on FDI in the nuclear industry for manufacturing of equipment and providing other supplies for nuclear power plants and related other facilities.
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