Courtesy: TwentyClicks.in
India operates 20 reactors with a combined capacity of 4.78 GW, and is building an additional 5.3 GW at six more reactors that are under construction as of December 2011. India’s nuclear fleet contributed 2.43% of India’s electricity in the 2010-11 fiscal year, and 3.68% in the first half of the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to Central Electricity Authority data.

Its nuclear plants operated at a combined average capacity factor of 78% from April to October 2011, a vast improvement over its fiscal year 2008-09 capacity factor of 50%. India has a shortage of uranium, and before the Indo-US nuclear deal cleared the way for imports of uranium, this directly affected its ability to start up reactors and, once running, operate them at high capacity factors. Since the Indo-US nuclear deal, India has put many of its reactors under international safeguards per the Separation Plan, and therefore been able to start fueling them with imported uranium from suppliers such as Areva and Kazatomprom. This has increased the fleet’s capacity factors.

Since the Indo-US nuclear deal, India has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with some countries, but it is still trying to finalize agreements with key uranium producer Canada, and negotiate agreements with key uranium producer Australia and nuclear equipment supplier Japan. India hopes that foreign nuclear suppliers will help it meet its goal of increasing its nuclear capacity to 20 GWe by 2020, and 63 GWe by 2032. However, it has acknowledged in December 2011 that it is unlikely to meet these targets.

India is counting on as much as 40 GWe of this new capacity consisting of light water reactors (LWRs) built with help from foreign vendors, including GE-Hitachi, Westinghouse (Toshiba), Areva, and Atomstroyexport — and perhaps Korea’s KHNP. However, the only foreign reactors now under construction in India are Atomstroyexport’s Kudankulam Units 1 & 2, which have been in the works since before the fall of the Soviet Union, and have in the fall of 2011 been delayed by anti-nuclear protests.

No contracts for new nuclear projects have been signed with foreign vendors since India’s Parliament passed a new nuclear liability law in 2010 (which went into force in November 2011) that explicitly made suppliers liable for damages in case of a nuclear accident. More on this below. However, as of December 2011, India was still planning to start construction eight light water reactors with foreign assistance during the 12th five-year plant period (2012-17).

India’s fuel cycle requirements will be shaped by its ability to resolve the liability issue: if the country continues to build indigenous, natural uranium-fueled PHWRs, that will limit its need for conversion (to UF6) and enrichment services; if it succeeds in building either foreign or indigenous LEU-fueled LWRs, its need for conversion and enrichment will grow. India has said that all imported reactors must come with lifetime supplies of fuel. The Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad is planning to work with foreign companies to set up joint ventures to fabricate LEU.

As part of the Separation Plan, India has pledged to set up separate, safeguarded reprocessing plants to handle spent imported fuel. India would like to work with Areva on this project. However, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in June of 2011 decided to restrict transfers of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to countries that — like India — have not signed the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). India insists that, as a result of the Indo-US nuclear deal, it got a “clean” waiver from NSG restrictions on non-NPT countries, and should therefore be able to import ENR technologies, as well as uranium and reactors.

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) is less optimistic about the growth of India’s nuclear capacity than is New Delhi. The WNA’s 2011-2030 Global Nuclear Fuel Market report’s reference scenario sees India’s capacity increasing to only 14.9 GWe by 2020 and 31.4 GWe by 2032. By way of explanation, it says only that the government target “will be difficult to achieve from the low base of today.”

India’s reactors required 746 metric tons of uranium (tU) in 2010, according to the WNA’s reference scenario. That scenario sees India’s uranium requirements rising to 3,434 tU in 2020 and 5,614 tU by 2030. India needed 65 metric tons of conversion services in 2011, to turn that uranium into uranium hexafluoride (UF6), according to the WNA’s reference scenario. That scenario sees India’s conversion requirements rising to 2,242 tons in 2020, and 4,189 tons in 2030. India needed 42,000 separative work units (SWUs) of enrichment services in 2010, according to the WNA’s reference scenario. That scenario sees India’s enrichment requirements rising to 1.58 million SWUs in 2020, and 3.24 million SWUs in 2030.

Organizations involved in India’s nuclear power program include, but are certainly not limited to: the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the Nuclear Power Co. of India Ltd (NPCIL), the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), the Uranium Co. of India Ltd (UCIL), the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC), the Heavy Water Board, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), and the Indira Ghandi Centre for Atomic Reserach (IGCAR).

Organizations in India that follow the nuclear industry include: anti-nuclear magazine Anumukti, anti-nuclear website DiaNuke, pro-nuclear website Nuclear Friends Foundation, and the think tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).


Operating Power Reactors

Tarapur (TAPS), Maharastra

TAPS Unit 1: a 150 MWe (net), 160 MWe (gross) BWR, connected to grid April 1, 1969. Commercial operations began October 28, 1969. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2010-11 and using imported fuel.

TAPS Unit 2: a 150 MWe (net), 160 MWe (gross) BWR, connected to grid May 5, 1969. Commercial operations began October 28, 1969. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2010-11 and using imported fuel.

TAPS Unit 3: a 490 MWe (net), 540 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to grid June 15, 2006. Commercial operations began August 18, 2006. Not slated for safeguards under the Separation Plan.

TAPS Unit 4: a 490 MWe (net), 540 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to grid June 15, 2005. Commercial operations began September 12, 2005. Not slated for safeguards under the Separation Plan.

(Sources: IAEA PRIS, NPCIL, DAE Nov. 26, 2011)

TAPS 1 & 2 are the only reactors operating in India that require LEU, so fuel supply has been an issue.

The Government of India contracted US-based General Electric to build them. Work started in 1964, and was completed in 1969, a year later than scheduled because of problems including cracks in the stainless steel components, according to N. Sarma and B. Banerjee’s “Nuclear Power in India.”

In 1963, the American government signed an agreement to supply TAPS 1 & 2 with LEU fuel for 30 years, which was the expected life of the reactor, according to “Nuclear Power in India.” But after India detonated a nuclear device in May 1974, and the US Congress passed the Non-Proliferation Act four years later, the supply was cut off. Under the Act, any country that imported nuclear material from the US had to agree to full scope safeguards on all its nuclear facilities.

India struggled to find other suppliers, buying fuel from the French until 1993 and China until 1998, before signing an LEU fuel supply agreement with Russian in August of 2000, according to “Nuclear Power in India.” The agreement was renewed in 2006, when Russia agreed to supply 60 metric tons per year of 3% enriched uranium for TAPS 1 & 2.


Rajasthan (RAPS), Rajasthan

RAPS Unit 1: a 90 MWe (net), 100 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to grid November 30, 1972. Commercial operations began December 16, 1973. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2011-12 and using imported fuel.

RAPS Unit 2: a 187 MWe (net), 200 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to grid November 1, 1980. Commercial operations began April 1, 1981. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2011-12 and using imported fuel.

RAPS Unit 3: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to grid March 10, 2000. Commercial operations began June 1, 2000. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2010-11 and using imported fuel.

RAPS Unit 4: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to grid November 17, 2000. Commercial operations began December 23, 2000. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2010-11 and using imported fuel.

RAPS Unit 5: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to grid December 22, 2009. Commercial operations began February 4, 2010. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2010-11 and using imported fuel.

RAPS Unit 6: a 202 MWe PHWR (net), 220 MWe (gross), connected to the grid March 28, 2010. Commercial operation began March 31, 2010. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2010-11 and using imported fuel.

(Sources: IAEA PRIS, NPCIL, DAE Nov. 26, 2011)

India early on decided to build reactors (with the exception of TAPS 1 & 2) that could be fueled with natural uranium. RAPS 1 was the first of these.

India’s Department of Atomic Energy contracted in 1964 with the Canadian government nuclear vendor Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) to build a CANDU-model reactor that could be fueled on natural uranium at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan, according to “Nuclear Energy in India.” AECL designed the plant and manufactured most of its components in Canada. Originally meant to be a 200 MWe reactor, it was downgraded because of technical problems.

In 1966, the two sides signed an agreement for a second, identical reactor at the same site. In 1973, though, India refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and Canada stopped supplying equipment for the reactor. In 1974, India tested another nuclear device, and Ottawa accused New Delhi of using plutonium extracted from a research reactor Canada had helped build — under assurances that it would be used only for peaceful purposes. Canada cut off nuclear cooperation with India, and still has not fully resumed it (as of November 2011), despite moves in recent years in that direction.

India built the rest of the RAPs units on its own and used the CANDU design as the basis for its indigenous IPHWR reactor design.

The RAPS 5 & 6 project was approved in 2002 at a cost of 30.72 billion rupees ($653.61 million). By the end of March 2010, only 21.51 billion rupees ($457.66 million) had been spent on the two units, according to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.


Madras (MAPS), Tamil Nadu

MAPS Unit 1: a 205 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross), PHWR, connected to grid July 23, 1983. Commercial operations began January 27, 1984. Not slated for safeguards under the Separation Plan.

MAPS Unit 2: a 205 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross), PHWR, connected to grid September 20, 1985. Commercial operations began March 21, 1986. Not slated for safeguards under the Separation Plan.

(Sources: IAEA PRIS, NPCIL, DAE Nov. 26, 2011)


Narora (NAPS), Uttar Pradesh
NAPS Unit 1: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to grid July 29, 1989. Commercial operations began January 1, 1991. Originally slated for safeguards by 2014 under the Separation Plan.

NAPS Unit 2: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross), PHWR, connected to grid January 5, 1992. Commercial operations began July 1, 1992. Originally slated for safeguards by 2014 under the Separation Plan.

(Sources: IAEA PRIS, NPCIL, DAE Nov. 26, 2011)


Kakrapar (KAPS), Gujarat

KAPS Unit 1: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to the grid November 24, 1992. Commercial operations began May 6, 1993. Originally slated for safeguards by 2012 under the Separation Plan. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2010-11 and using imported fuel.

KAPS Unit 2: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to the grid March 4, 1995. Commercial operations began September 1, 1995. Originally slated for safeguards by 2012 under the Separation Plan. Under IAEA safeguards as of end FY 2010-11 and using imported fuel.

Source: IAEA PRIS, NPCIL, DAE November 26, 2011.


Kaiga, Karnataka

Kaiga Unit 1: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to the grid October 12, 2000. Commercial operations began November 16, 2000. Not slated for safeguards under the separation plan.

Kaiga Unit 2: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to the grid December 2, 1999. Commercial operations began March 16, 2000. Not slated for safeguards under the separation plan.

Kaiga Unit 3: a 202 MWe (net), 220 MWe (gross) PHWR, connected to the grid April 11, 2007. Commercial operations began May 6, 2007. Not slated for safeguards under the separation plan.

Kaiga Unit 4: a 202 MWe (net) PHWR, 220 MWe (gross) connected to the grid January 19, 2011. Commercial operations began January 20, 2011. Not slated for safeguards under the separation plan.

(Sources: IAEA PRIS, NPCIL, DAE November 26, 2011)

The Unit 3 & 4 project was approved in 2001 at a cost of 42.13 billion rupees ($896.38 million), for completion in the 2008-9 fiscal year, according to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI). By the end of March 2011, only 26.1 billion rupees ($555.3 million) had been spent on the project, according to MOSPI, though both units had been connected to the grid by that time.


Planned Power Reactors

“India has decided to place under safeguards all future civilian thermal power reactors and civilian breeder reactors, and the Government of India retains the sole right to determine such reactors as civilian,” according to the 2005 Separation Plan.


Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu

Kudankulam Unit 1: a 917 MWe (Net) PWR (VVER-1000). Commercial operations had been expected in March 2007, according to NPCIL. By October 2011, the unit was 99.2% complete. The date of expected completion was shown on NPCIL’s website on Nov. 30 as March 2012. This reflects a delay of about six months because of the recent protests against the project.

Kudankulam Unit 2: a 917 MWe (Net) PWR (VVER-1000). Commercial operations had been expected in December 2007, according to NPCIL. By October 2011, the unit was 99.2% complete. The date of expected completion was shown on NPCIL’s website on Nov. 30 as December 2012. This reflects a delay of about six months because of the recent protests against the project.

(Sources: IAEA PRIS Nov. 26, 2011. NPCIL Nov. 30, 2011).

The plan for these two reactors dates back to before the fall of the Soviet Union. However, there have been multiple delays and cost overruns. The project was approved in 2001 at a cost of 131.7 billion rupees ($2.8 billion), according to the Ministry of Statistics and Project Implementation. It is slated for completion at an estimated cost of 158.2 billion rupees (about $3.4 billion).

“In 2002 JSC ASE [Atomstroyexport] concluded a series of contracts with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. The scope of contract obligations to be performed by JSC ASE includes the development of working documentation for construction, assembly and commissioning work, manufacture and delivery of equipment and materials for the reactor building, turbine hall and other buildings and facilities of the nuclear plant,” according to Atomstroyexport promotional materials.

Although there have been protests against the Kudankulam project since 1988, the most recent spate of protests flared up in October and has delayed the project by about six months. The issue went national, drawing intervention from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and others. Kudankulam backers have suggested that the protesters are supported by foreign, anti-Indian forces. Intelligence agencies and police have reportedly been tasked to investigate this. The protesters insist theirs is a home-grown, grass-roots movement of people concerned about the safety of nuclear technology, or about being displaced.

Although there has been talk of India and Russia signing a contract for the construction of two additional VVER-1000s at the site — Kudankulam 3 & 4 — that has apparently been delayed. It is unclear whether the roadblock is the liability issue, lack of agreement on commercial terms, or the protests. “Techno Commercial Offer (TC) from Atomstroyexport (ASE), Russian Federation is in final stages of conclusion,” according to the DAE’s 2010-11 annual report.

There is also a plan for Russia to build up to six reactors at a site near Haripur in West Bengal. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says she will not allow this, as it would involve the displacement of too many people, but Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) head Srikumar Banerjee said in November 2011 that his agency has not yet given up on the plan.


Kakrapar (KAPS), Gujarat

Kakrapar Unit 3: a 630 MWe (net), 700 MWe (gross) PHWR. First pour of concrete was in November 2010. Slated for grid connected March 31, 2015, according to the IAEA. Slated for commercial operation in June 2015, according to NPCIL.

Kakrapar Unit 4: a 630 MWe (net), 700 MWe (gross) PHWR. First pour of concrete was in March 2011. Slated for grid connected September 30, 2015. Slated for commercial operations in December 2015, according to NPCIL.

(Source: IAEA PRIS, Nov. 26, 2011. NPCIL Nov. 30, 2011)

The project was approved in 2009 at a cost of 114 .59 billion rupees ($2.44 billion), according to the Ministry of Statistics and Project Implementation.


Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), Tamil Nadu

Government-owned Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (Bhavini) is building the PFBR, a 500 MW power reactor at Kalpakkam. It is to be the first of at least three such reactors at that site. It will not be safeguarded: “India is not in a position to accept safeguards on the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) and the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), both located at Kalpakkam. The Fast Breeder Programme is at the R&D stage and its technology will take time to mature and reach an advanced stage of development,” according to the Separation Plan.

Bhavini’s fiscal year 2011 annual report, which covers the period up to March 2011, said the reactor was 73% physically complete. “We envisage to complete construction in the financial year 2011-12 and move to commissioning,” the report said. In November 2011, AEC chief Srikumar Banerjee said “work on the PFBR is progressing steadily. Physical progress is now at 82 per cent and I am confident that construction will be complete by mid-2012. But of course, commissioning a reactor is a very different game than building one.” In December 2011, the government said it planned to commission the reactors within two years.

A March 2011 report from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation said the PFBR had been approved in September 2004 at a cost of 34.92 billion rupees ($742.97 million), that 29.44 billion rupees ($626.38 million) had spent up to that point, and that the total anticipated cost was 56.77 billion rupees ($1.2 billion).

India has been operating a Fast Breeder Test Reactor at Kalpakkam for more than 25 years. During the 2010-11 fiscal year it “operated at 18 MWt with the turbogenerator synchronized to the grid, generating 3.2 MWe,” according to the Department of Atomic Energy’s annual report for that year.


Rajasthan (RAPS), Rajasthan

RAPS Unit 7: a 630 MWe (net), 700 MWe (gross) PHWR. First pour of concrete was July 18, 2011. Slated for completion in “the year 2016-17,” according to an NPCIL statement at the time.

RAPS Unit 8: a 630 MWe (net), 700 MWe (gross) PHWR. First pour of concrete was July 18, 2011. Slated for completion in “the year 2016-17,” according to an NPCIL statement at the time.

Source: IAEA PRIS, NPCIL Nov. 26, 2011.

The project was approved in 2009 at a cost of 123.2 billion rupees ($2.62 billion), for completion in 2016, according to the Ministry of Statistics and Project Implementation.


Jaitapur, Maharastra

France’s Areva hopes to build up to six 1,650 MWe EPR reactors at this site. It has not yet signed a contract with India for any of those reactors. Protesters have vehemently apposed the project, while the Maharastra and central governments have stood behind it. The Ministry of Environment and Forest gave environmental clearances for the first two units, and Areva and India have signed an “early-works-agreement,” according to the Indian Department of Atomic Energy’s 2010-11 annual report. The Government of India gave “In principle approval” for the six reactors on the site in 2009, according to the DAE. “Techno-commercial offer submitted by AREVA was under final states,” the DAE’s 2010-11 annual report said.

Here is an (anti-nuclear) site devoted to the Jaitapur project.


Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh

GE-Hitachi has tentative plans to build up to six ESBWR reactors on this site, but no contract has been signed, and GE-Hitachi has indicated that it’s not interested in building reactors in India under the terms of the 2010 nuclear liability law. “Pre-project activities” have commenced at the site, according to the Indian Department of Atomic Energy’s 2010-11 annual report.


Chhayya Mithi-Virdi, Gujarat

Toshiba-owned Westinghouse has tentative plans to build up to six AP-1000 reactors on this site, but no contract has been signed and Westinghouse has said it is reluctant to build reactors in India under the terms of the 2010 nuclear liability law. “Pre-project activities” have commenced at the site, according to the Indian Department of Atomic Energy’s 2010-11 annual report.


Gorakhpur, Haryana

Pre-project activities commenced at this greenfield site, which is slated to host indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs, according to the Indian Department of Atomic Energy’s 2010-11 annual report.


Chutka, Madhya Pradesh

Pre-project activities commenced at this greenfield site, which is slated to host indigenous 700 MWe PHWRs, according to the Indian Department of Atomic Energy’s 2010-11 annual report.


Mahi-Banswara

The Indian government in December 2011, gave in-principle approval to the construction of four 700 MW pressurized heavy water reactors on a new site in Rajasthan. “Pre-project” activities are under way at the site. Official sanction is expected in the XII Five-Year Plan period (2012-17).


Kaiga 5 & 6

The Indian government in December 2011, has given in-principle approval for the construction of two 700 MW reactors at the Kaiga site in Karnataka, which now hosts four 220 MW units. Construction was supposed to start in April 2012.


The Nuclear Liability Issue

One of the major issues holding back India’s plans to increase its nuclear capacity is the nuclear liability issue. In 2010, the Parliament passed the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act. If there is a nuclear accident, the Act allows people to sue the operator, NPCIL for compensation (standard international practice is to channel all liability to the operator). However, the Act also gives the operator the “right of recourse” to sue suppliers under certain circumstances to recoup the money the operator has to pay out for damages. Nuclear suppliers — foreign and domestic, large and small — say that provision is out of line with international practice, and that they are hesitant to do business in India under the Act.

The Act went into effect effect Nov. 11, 2011, when the government published the implementing rules. The rules do not eliminate the right of recourse, and they do not appear to bar citizens damaged by a nuclear accident from simply suing suppliers directly. Therefore, they do not appear to address the suppliers concerns. It remains to be seen, then, which suppliers were bluffing to get a better deal and will do nuclear business in India under the act, and which suppliers really are unwilling to take the risk of being sued if there is a nuclear accident.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has pledged that India in 2011 will ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), and international treaty that favors the principle of “channeling” all liability to the operator. If Singh succeeds in pushing ratification through the Parliament, that may set up a conflict between the CSC and the domestic Indian nuclear liability Act. Some believe this might force India to change its Act to bring it into conformance with the CSC.


Mining & Milling

India has 105,900 tU of conventional reasonably assured resources an inferred resources, according to the IAEA/OECD publication Uranium 2009: Resources, Production and Demand. But India has only turned out 290 tU in 2009, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology; its reactor requirements in 2010 were 746 tU. India’s uranium deposits are said to be very low-grade. India’s production is not significant in global terms: it is not among the top uranium-producing countries.

The country had six operating mines, according to the Uranium Corporation of India, Ltd (UCIL’s) report for the fiscal year ending in March 2010: Jaduguda (650 tons per day of ore output in 2009), Bhatin (150 t/d, 2009), Narwapahar (1,000 t/d, 2009), Turamdih (750 t/d, 2009), Banduhurang (2,400 t/d, 2009), Bagjata (500 t/d). It also had two operating mills: Jaduguda (2,500 tons per day processing capacity), and Turamdih (3,000 tons per day).

By December 2011, UCIL had laid its report for the fiscal year ending in March 2011 in front of Parliament, but had not yet posted it on its website.

India has at least five additional mines planned: Tummalapale (3,000 t/d of ore, planned), Mouldih (500 t/d), Kyelleng-Pyndengsohong Mawthabah (KPM) (1,500 t/d), Lambapur (1,250 t/d), and Gogi (500 t/d). India also has at least three more mills planned: Tummalapale (3,000 tons per day of ore processing capacity), KPM (1,500 t/d), and Seripally (1,250 t/d).


Enrichment

India began enriching uranium in 1986 at a pilot plant in Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), according to a 2004 article on India’s enrichment capacity by Princeton’s MV Ramana. In the mid-1980s, India also began building a larger plant at Ratehalli near Mysore operated by BARC as the Rare Materials Project (RMP). This small military plant went into operation in 1990.

In 2004, MV Ramana published at least two articles (1, 2) about India’s enrichment program.

By 2007, the Washington DC-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) assessed that India “appears competent at constructing centrifuges comparable to those common in Europe in the 1970s.” Its main purpose is to supply LEU fuel for India’s nuclear submarines, and AEC chief Srikumar Banerjee said in November 2011 that it has sufficient capacity to do so.

According to the 2010 IPFM report, “The first generation of centrifuges was installed in the early 1990s, and resulted in total enrichment capacity in the range of 500-2000 SWU/yr. The second generation of centrifuge was installed in the late 1990s, and resulted in total enrichment capacity in the range of 3000-7000 SWU/yr by 2000 … The third generation of centrifuges with an additional capacity of 7000-13,000 SWU/yr was installed in the 2007-2009 period.” Zia Man also addressed this expansion in an IPFM blog entry in 2010. The World Nuclear Association reports that it “appears that it is being expanded to some 25,000 SW/year.”

According to Saurav Jha’s 2010 The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power, “This facility is now being turned into an industrial level enterprise with the introduction of the new gas centrifuge technology which is, as per reports, ten times more efficacious than the gas centrifuges that India possessed in the mid-1990s. In fact India has, in all probability, already graduated from sub-critical to super-critical centrifuge technology and may now be able to undertake enrichment on an appreciable scale … Besides expanding activities at the Ratenhalli plant, new enrichment facilities are on the anvil.” An ISIS report in October 2011 based on satellite imagery reported what appeared to be construction at the site.

India is also building a new enrichment facility at Chitradurga. AEC head Srikumar Banerjee said in November 2011 “It will not be a safeguarded facility. We are keeping the option open of using it for multiole roles. Chitradurga could of course be used to produce slightly enriched uranium (SEU) with about 1.1 per cent U-235 content to fuel our pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) units which would boost the fuel burn up to as much as 20000 MWd/tonne … Talking about enrichment, we are quite happy with the progress we are making and with the new Chitradurga facility we are closing in on what you could refer to as industrial level capability.”


Fuel Fabrication

The Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad fabricates fuel bundles for NPCIL’s PHWRs and BWRs. The World Nuclear Association reports that the NFC has the capacity to fabricate 400 t/yr of unenriched fuel for India’s PHWRs, and 25 t/yr of fuel made from imported 2.66% enriched fuel for its Tarapur BWRs. WNA also reports that NFC is setting up a new 500 t/yr PHWR fuel fabrication plant at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan. BARC supplies the plutonium-bearing mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for the fast breeder reactor program. India is hoping to create joint ventures with foreign companies to set up fuel fabrication facilities to me LEU fuel for imported LWRs.


Reprocessing

India had three reprocessing plants in 2009. That includes 100 ton per year oxide fuel plant operating at Tarapur, and one each at Kaplakkam and Trombay. In all, India can reprocess 275 tons of spent fuel every year, according to Saurav Jha’s 2010 The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power.

The Indian Department of Atomic Energy’s (DAE’s) 2010-11 annual report says “A new reprocessing plant called ROP (revamping of PREFRE) was constructed at Tarapur for carrying out the reprocessing of power reactor fuel. To process spent fuel from research reactors operation of Plutonium Plant, Trombay was continued. Storage of spent fuel from MAPS in Spent Fuel Storage Facility (SFSF) at Kalpakkam and its processing at KARP facility, were continued.”

The 2010-11 DAE annual report continued: “a significant milestone … was achieved with the commissioning of the second {Power Reactor Reprocessing Plant by BARC at Tarapur. Recently, work on setting up of an integrated Nuclear Recycle Plant with facilities for both reprocessing of spent fuel and waste management, also commenced at Kalpakkam.”

In November, AEC chief Srikumar Banerjee said “We may yet not be setting up reprocessing plants as big as Rokkasho in Japan or Sellafield in UK but the new reprocessing facilities that are slated to come up in the next decade or so are going to be appreciably bigger than what we have now. Even the one that is nearing completion in Kalpakkam is a fairly large facility. The planned integrated nuclear recycle plant for instance will be handling close to 500 tonne/year of heavy metal and will be sited at Tarapur which is in one of our existing sites. During the next plan period we will look at two more such facilities.”

For more on reprocessing in India, check out my blog posts on the subject.


Bibliograhy

Chari, PR (ed). “Indo-US Nuclear Deal: Seeking Synergy in Bilateralism.” Routeledge, New Delhi: 2009.

Jha, Saurav. “The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power.” HarperCollins India: 2010.

Sarma, N and B Banerjee. “Nuclear Power in India: A Critical History.” Rupa, New Delhi: 2008.

Ramana, MV. “Nuclear Energy in India.” Penguin: Forthcoming.