India's Nuclear Power Corp targets 63,000 MW by 2032

"By 2032, we will be able to generate 63,000 MW of power. This will be done with a mixture of indigenous technology and foreign collaboration," S.K. Jain, chairman of the energy major, told IANS in an interview.

In the short term, Jain said he was looking forward to necessary approvals for the fifth and the sixth units of  the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station so that they can start functioning by January next year. "I am hoping that if I get clearance from the International Atomic Energy Agency this month, then the fifth unit in Rajasthan will start operating at 100 percent power by early November and the sixth by January," he added.

Both the units will come under the agency's India-specific safeguards that will allow it to qualify for imported fuel. Besides, the indigenously developed prototype fast breeder reactor, under a three-phase project, is also under construction. The government recently approved 15 new atomic energy plants at eight sites, which include four allocated for French, American and Russian companies.

These sites are Kumharia in Haryana, Kakrapar and Chchaya in Gujarat, Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, Haripur in West Bengal, Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and Jaitapur in Maharashtra. These units will account for an additional generation of over 50,000 MW of power and add to the current installed capacity is 4,120 MW from 17 plants, the official said.

While France's Areva will build a 1,650-MW unit at Jaitapur, the Russians will get land in West Bengal for another project. Two American firms, General Electric and Westinghouse, are to be given land in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

During the interview, Jain ruled out majority foreign equity in nuclear plants in India and said the first phase of expansion after the India-US nuclear deal will be achieved by way of overseas collaborations with Indian public sector undertakings. The Nuclear Power Corp recently signed agreements with three state-run companies, namely, the Indian Oil Corp, National Aluminium Co and NTPC, formerly called the National Thermal Power Corp.

Jain said two units at Kudankulam would be commissioned by next year, where the Russians were providing the technical cooperation. Work on the third and fourth units at Kudankulam, also with Russian help, is likely to start by year-end.

"We have got all the statutory clearances. After agreement at company level, it has to go to the cabinet. I hope that by the year end, the construction should start," Jain said.
Two months later, Areva's power plant  in Maharashtra should also be able get the necessary approvals to start work on the ground, he added.

According to the company official, a major challenge has been cost-effective generation of power and the average tariff from nuclear plants, also called pooled tariff, was Rs. 2.28 per unit for the previous financial year.

"Kudankulam power cost will be very near the pooled tariff." Jain said his company was also sitting on a mound of cash. "We are now Rs.30,000 crore ($6 billion) cash-surplus. For 10,000 MW to 12,000 MW, I don't need money from the government. I also enjoy a "Triple A" credit rating."

The real challenge, he said, is of consistent fuel supply, ramping up the supply chain and human resources. "We are looking for long-term agreements on services for fuel fabrication. We are also looking at stakes in Uranium mines abroad."

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