India scales down N-power capacity

India scales down N-power capacity

Ambitious target of 20,000 MW by 2020 cut down to 11,480 MW

The disclosure has come from none other than M R Srinivasan, a member the Atomic Energy Commission and former secretary to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) who made a presentation at a conference on Thursday. One of the slides in the presentation was the giveaway.

India's projected capacity build up, according to Srinivasan, stands at 10080 MW by 2019-20 if one takes into account operationalisation of all reactors which are under construction at the moment. If any new foreign reactor, apart from the two units in Kudankulam, becomes operational the capacity would go up to merely 11080 MW.

This seems to suggest that Srinivasan has almost given up on timely operationalisation of the first two French reactors at Jaitapur, which are scheduled to be operational by 2019 if the French supplier Areva and Nuclear Power Corporation of India can sign a commercial pact in 2012.

One more year will not make any major difference in India's installed capacity. Going by same trend, the total installed capacity would be 11480 MW (taking only indigenous and KNPP into account) and 14580 MW (if more foreign reactors become critical) by 2020-21.

Either way the projections are far less than the ambitious ‘20,000 MW by 2020’ target which the entire atomic energy establishment and the government touted throughout the last decade; the period when the government went ahead with the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

Delay in starting

“There has been a slip because of the delay in starting projects including Jaitapur,” Srinivasan told Deccan Herald when asked for clarification.

Srinivasan, a former member (energy) of the Planning Commission, did not take any further queries as he said he would have to rush to attend an important meeting.

A DAE spokesperson in Mumbai, however, said the department's official target still stands at 20,000 MW by 2020.

Agitations in Jaitapur and Kudankulam as well as the shake-up in the nuclear industry post Fukushima may have caused the delay. The new liability regime, which came last week and did not satisfy many vendors, might also delay India's nuclear dream further.

The 1650 MW EPR reactors for Jaitapur are currently undergoing  a review by the French regulatory authority (ASN), which will be followed by another round of scrutiny by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.

Target 2021-22

Going by Srinivasan's calculation, India will cross the 20,000 MW mark only in 2021-22 after a few more foreign reactors become operational. But going purely by indigenous routes, there is no question of coming anywhere close to that milestone even in 2023-24.
The facts and figures, Srinivasan used in the presentation, came from the NPCIL, which runs almost all Indian nuclear power plants.