With a view to optimally utilise limited uranium reserves and large thorium reserves in the country, the Department of Atomic Energy has adopted a three stage nuclear power programme, based on a closed nuclear fuel cycle, for generation of nuclear power and for achieving long term energy security.
The three stage nuclear power programme, which is to be implemented sequentially, aims to multiply the domestically available fissile resources through the use of natural Uranium in Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (first stage), followed by use of Plutonium obtained from the spent fuel of Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors in Fast Breeder Reactors, in the second stage.
Large scale use of Thorium will subsequently follow making use of Uranium-233 that will be bred in Fast Breeder Reactors, when adequate nuclear installed capacity in the country has been built. Accordingly, the utilisation of Thorium as a practically inexhaustible energy source has been contemplated during the third stage of the Indian nuclear programme, which can be reached after a few decades. The first stage of nuclear power programme comprising indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) is in industrial domain.
A Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) under the second stage is being commissioned by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu.
For the near term, the Government in July 2014, had announced tripling of the then existing capacity of 4780 MW in the next ten years, that is by the year 2024. A capacity of 1000 MW has already been added with the start of commercial operation of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Unit-1 (KKNPP 1) in December, 2014.
The nuclear power capacity is expected to reach 10080 MW on progressive completion of projects presently under commissioning/construction by the year 2018. The Government has accorded financial sanction for two more projects namely Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana (GHAVP) Units 1&2 (2×700 MW) and Kudankulam Nuclear Power Projects (KKNPP) Units – 3&4 (2X1000 MW) with a total capacity of 3400 MW.
These are being readied for start of construction in 2016. Another 2 x700 MW project is also planned to be taken up in the near future. On progressive completion of these projects, the target is expected to be achieved by the year 2024.
The Department of Atomic Energy is in touch with all the concerned Ministries/Agencies of the Government as well as State Governments with regard to establishing nuclear power plants in the country. All suggestions received from them, which are helpful in advancing the nuclear power programme are accepted for implementation.
This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in a reply to an unstarred question in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.