Recently, in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, the government provided details related to various nuclear power plants in the country.
Nuclear power reactors statistics in India
- India currently has 22 operating nuclear power reactors, with an installed capacity of 6780 MegaWatt electric (MWe).
- Among these 22 nuclear power reactors eighteen reactors are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) and four are Light Water Reactors (LWRs).
- Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is being implemented by the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI),
- A 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu).
- BHAVINI is a wholly owned Enterprise of the Government of India under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
Government initiatives in the field of Nuclear Energy
- India’s Paris pledge: Two of the eight pledges have a direct relationship with nuclear energy:
- To achieve about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
- To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% from 2005 levels.
- To achieve the 1st target, India also commits to making efforts to achieve 63 GW installed capacity based on nuclear generation by 2032, provided nuclear fuel supply is ensured.
- The target now has been reduced to 27.5 Gigawatts.
- In terms of electricity generation, nuclear power's share of the total power production in the country in 2008 was 2.03 percent, which rose to 3.2 percent in 2017.
- Work is also on to create a uranium reserve by importing the element to ensure the power reactors under IAEA safeguards do not face fuel shortage.
- India has also ratified an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which means that its civilian reactors are under IAEA safeguards and open for inspections—i.e. ensures increased transparency.
- India on 22 June 2014 ratified the Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
- The Additional Protocol will cover the facilities which are monitored by the IAEA and will have no bearing on the non-safeguarded facilities which are used for building weapons.
- The Additional Protocol’s ratification fulfils India’s commitment anchored in the Indo-U.S. joint statement of July 2005, which stated unambiguously that New Delhi would conclude an additional protocol with the IAEA.
Nuclear Reserves in India
Light-water reactors (LWRs)
- They are power reactors that are cooled and moderated with ordinary water.
- The light water reactor is a type of thermal- neutron reactor that utilizes normal water as opposed to heavy water.
- It is fuelled by Low Enriched Uranium.
- It uses water as both a coolant method and a neutron moderator.
- It produces heat by controlled nuclear fission.
- There are two basic types: the pressurized-water reactor (PWR) and the boiling-water reactor (BWR).
Boiling Water Reactor (BWR)
- A BWR operates on the principle of a direct power cycle.
- Water passing through the core is allowed to boil at an intermediate pressure level.
- The saturated steam that exits the core region is transported through a series of separators and dryers located within the reactor vessel that promote a superheated state.
- The superheated water vapour is then used as the working fluid to turn the steam turbine.
About The Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs)
- PWR is the most common type of nuclear reactor.
- It uses unenriched natural uranium as its fuel, and heavy water (deuterium oxide D2O) as its coolant and moderator.
- The heavy water coolant is kept under pressure, allowing it to be heated to higher temperatures without boiling, much as in a typical pressurized water reactor.
- While heavy water is significantly more expensive than ordinary light water, it yields greatly enhanced neutron economy, allowing the reactor to operate without fuel enrichment facilities (mitigating the additional capital cost of the heavy water) and generally enhancing the ability of the reactor to efficiently make use of alternate fuel cycles.
Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR)
- They are fuelled by Mixed Oxide (MoX) Fuel.
- A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor that generates more fissile material than it consumes.
- PFBR are designed to extend the nuclear fuel supply for electric power generation.
- PFBR reactors achieve this because their neutron economy is high enough to create more fissile fuel than they use, by irradiation of a fertile material, such as Uranium-238 or Thorium-232 that is loaded into the reactor along with fissile fuel.
About Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL)
- It is a Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India.
- NPCIL is responsible for design, construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear power reactors.
- It has the objectives of operating atomic power plants and implementing atomic power projects for generation of electricity in pursuance of the schemes and programmes of the Government of India under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.
- NPCIL also has equity participation in BHAVINI, another PSU of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) which implements Fast Breeder Reactors programme in the country.
- The operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), and the regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), also provide significant guidelines and quality checks for almost every component that goes into a nuclear operator.
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