General Studies Nuclear Programmes in India
Developments Of Nuclear Programmes In India
Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the founder of atomic energy programme in India, drew the roadmap of nuclear power programme, which brought the country in the elite club of nations possessing advanced nuclear technology. Thus, this is an appropriate time to look back on the evolution of nuclear power in the country and assess its current status, future opportunities and the associated challenges.
India’s three-stage nuclear power programme was formulated by Dr Bhabha itself in the 1950s to secure the country’s long term energy independence, through the use of uranium and thorium reserves found in the monazite sands of coastal regions of South India. The ultimate focus of the programme is on enabling the thorium reserves of India to be utilized in meeting the country’s energy requirements.
In November, 1954, Bhabha presented the three-stage plan for national development, at the conference on ‘Development of Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purposes’. Four years later in 1958, the Indian government formally adopted the three-stage plan.
Genesis of Atomic Energy in India
The Atomic Energy Commission was set-up in 1948 for framing policies in respect of development of atomic energy in the country. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was established in 1954 to implement the policies framed by the Atomic Energy Commission.
Atomic energy activities in the country are governed by the Atomic Energy Act. The Commercial Nuclear Power Programme of India is run by three different bodies.
In India, nuclear energy development began with the objectives of peaceful uses of atomic energy in improving the quality of life of the people and to achieve self-reliance in meeting the energy needs.
Three Stages of Indian Nuclear Power Programme
Stage I Pressurized. Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR)
The first stage comprises of PHWR fuelled by natural uranium. Natural uranium contains only 0.7% of uranium-235, which undergoes fission to release energy. The remaining 99.3% comprises U-238, which is not fissile, however, it is converted in the nuclear
reactor to fissile element Pu-239. In the fission process, among other fission products, a small quantity of Pu-239 is formed by transmutation of U-238. PHWR was a natural choice for implementing the first stage. Heavy water is used as moderator and coolant. Indian uranium reserves are capable of generating a total power capacity of 420 GWe-years. Almost the entire existing base of Indian nuclear power (4780 MW) is composed of first stage PHWRs.
Stage II Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR)
The second stage comprises of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) are fuelled by mixed oxide of U-238 and Pu-239, recovered by reprocessing of the first stage spent fuel. In FBRs, Pu-239 undergoes fission producing energy and producing Pu-239 by transmutation of U-238. Thus, the FBRs produce energy and fuel, hence termed ‘Breeders’. FBRs produce more fuel than they consume. Over a period of time, plutonium inventory can be built-up by feeding U-238.
The surplus plutonium bred in each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors, and thus grow the Indian civil nuclear power capacity till the point where the third-stage reactors using thorium as fuel cam be brought. India’s fast breeder reactor is based upon the liquid metal fast breeder reactor. To sustain a chain reaction using fast neutrons, the reactor fuel must be relatively rich in fissile material.
Thorium-Based, Reactors It is an advanced nuclear power system involves a self-sustaining series of Th-232-U-233 fuelled reactors. This would be a thermal breeder reactor.
The Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWRj is a 300 MWe vertical pressure tube type, boiling light water cooled and heavy water moderated reactor, using U-233 Th-MOX and Pu-Th-MOX
It is expected to generate 65% of its power from thorium and can also be configured to accept other fuel types in full core including enriched uranium and uranium-plutonium MOX. •
The development of commercial technology of third-stage is under way currently. However, the commercial development of this technology is expected to take appreciable time.
List of Nuclear Power Plants in India
Nuclear power plants in India are spread across the country in zones which are non-earthquake prone. Most of the plants belong to the third generation of plants, which have highly safety and security standards.
|Power Station||Operator||Estd||Location||Installed Capacity (MW) Reactor Unit (MW)|
|Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) NPCIL||October 28, 1969||Tarapur (Maharashtra)||1400||2 X 160 2 x 540|
|Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) BHAVINI||January 24,1984||Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu)||—||1 x 500|
|Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) NPCIL||December 16, 1973||Rawatbhata (Rajasthan)||1180||1 x 100 1 x 200 4 x 220|
|Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant||NPCIL||November 16, 2000||Kaiga (Karnataka)||880||4 x 220|
|Narora Atomic Power Station||NPCIL||January 1,||1991||Narora (Uttar Pradesh)||440||2 x 220|
|Kakrapar Atomic Power Station||NPCIL||May 6, 1993||Kakrapar (Gujarat)||440||2 x 700|
|Proposed Nuclear Energy Parks|
|Name||Location||Type||Reactor Unit (MW)||Status|
|Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant||Jaitapur (Maharashtra)||European Pressurized Reactor||9900||On December 6, 2010, agreement was signed for construction|
|Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant||Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu)||WER||1000||Under construction|
|Mithivirdi Nuclear Power Plant||Mithivirdi (Gujarat)||LWR||6 x 1000||Under land acquisition process|
|Kowada Nuclear Power Plant||Kowada (Andhra Pradesh)||LWR||6 x 1000||State government has sanctioned land|
|Haripur Nuclear Power Plant||Haripur (West Bengal)||LWR||6 x 1650||Under construction|
|Kumharia Nuclear Power Plant||Kumharia (Haryana)||LWR ■||4 x 700||Under Construction|
Development with Nuclear Power in India
Development of Technology The first-stage programme went through stages of technology demonstration, indigenization,. commercialization. While the first stage began with 220 MWe reactors supplied by AECL (Canada), the subsequent PHWRs have all been indigenous. The Canadian assistance was withdrawn in 1974. The country has developed comprehensive capabilities in all aspects of nuclear power from siting, design, construction, operation of nuclear power plants. Comprehensive multidimensional research and development facilities have been set-up. Excellent human resource and training infrastructure has been developed for the specialized skills needed for nuclear power.
Development of Industrial equipments At the time of country’s independence in 1947 and for several years thereafter, the industry’s capability was limited to manufacturing and supply of equipment for cement and sugar industry.
The Indian industry exposure, manufacturing and supply of equipment for high technology requirements was quite limited. The Indian industry development was initiated and achieved maturity with the development of nuclear technology. Large efforts have been put by DAE and NPCIL to develop the Indian industry to achieve high standards in manufacturing of equipment for nuclear power technology. Currently, the Indian industry manufacturing of equipment is comparable to the international standards.
Achievements in Nuclear Power Technology Nuclear power plants have registered high availability factor, safety performance and longest continuous operation comparable to international standards.
Developments in Renovation and Modernization Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has developed and carried out unique renovation & moder- nization activities in its stations. The health assessment of Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) has been carried out using the latest and advanced techniques.The Tarapur units after renovation and modernization are operating with availability factors near 100%.
Project Execution Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has mastered and re-engineered the nuclear power projects execution methodology and strategies and achieved reduction is gestation period. The construction and commissioning of TAPS and Kaiga in five years with substantial cost savings further endorses this.
Tariffs and Costs The nuclear power tariffs are competitive with those of thermal power stations located away from coal pit-heads. The tariffs of new plants to be set-up, both indigenous and imported, is expected to be about ? 250 in the year 2015 (at 2007 prices). Nuclear power in India has thus evolved into an economically competitive option for electricity generation.
Decarburizing the Environment
Nuclear power is environmentally benign and the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear power are comparable to that of wind and solar photo-voltaic power. Nuclear power, thus contribute significantly in decarburizing the power sector and arresting climate changes.
Safety and Regulations
The Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1948 and then in 1954 the Department of Atomic Energy was set-up to encompass research, technology development and commercial reactor operation. The current Atomic Energy Act-1962, permits only government-owned enterprises to be involved in nuclear power.
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was formed in 1983 and is responsible for the regulation and licensing of all nuclear facilities and their safety.
According to a report of CAG released in August, 2012, some serious organisational flaws and numerous failings are present in Atomic Energy activities. The most fundamental issue highlighted by the report was the unsatisfactory legal status and authority of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
The Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill was drawn up in response to events at Fukushima-Daichii nuclear plants and aims to establish several new regulatory bodies.
The Council of Nuclear Safety (CNS) will oversee and review policies on radiation safety, nuclear safety and other connected matters. The second major body to be established is the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) and will be responsible for ensuring radiation safety and nuclear safety in all civilian sector activities. The NSRA will take over the functions of the existing AERB.
In April, 2012, India’s AERB joined the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s Multinational Design Evaluation Programme as the 11th member.
IAEA and India
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has sanctioned some deliberate norms for India to conduct a peaceful nuclear energy test, to mitigate the energy deficit conditions in the country. After being the energy-efficient country, India can lead the world in every arena.
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act places responsibility for any nuclear accident with the operator, as is standard internationally, and limits total liability to 300 million SDR (about US $ 450 million). Operator liability is capped at ? 1500 crore.
The Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) has exempted India from its rule of prohibiting trade with non-members of the NPT. As India, Pakistan and Israel are non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
In April, 2012, India told the UN Security Council that given its ability and willingness to promote global non-proliferation objectives, and that it already adhered to the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
India’s Nuclear Tests
Name Year Code Name Remark
Pokhran-I May 18,1974 Smiling Buddha First Test Outside Five Permanent Members Of UNO
Pokhran-II 11-13 May 1998 Operation Shakti A Variety of Sanctions Imposed On India
Nuclear Command Authority
|Agency Executive||Prime Minister|
|Functions||All command, control and operational decisions regarding India’s nuclear weapon stockpile.|
|Operationalized by||Strategic Forces Command (SFC)|
The Road Ahead
Indian Nuclear Power Programme has been developed and successfully deployed with indigenous efforts. Thus, placing the country in elite club of countries possessing advanced nuclear technology. The evolution and development of commercial nuclear technology in the country has passed through several technological revolutions.
While developing and implementing the nuclear power programme, the Indian industry capability in manufacturing and supply of high precision and specialized equipment has also been developed comparable to international standards.
The nuclear power has come of age with comprehensive capabilities in all aspects of nuclear power and is poised for a large expansion programme. The challenge is to pursue the three-stage programme, develop and commercially deploy technologies for utilization of thorium and ensure the country’s long-term energy security.
The fruition of international cooperation will open up a plethora of opportunities in export of nuclear goods, equipments and services. The Indian nuclear power sector and industry needs to evolve faster to meet the associated challenges.