Illusive claims of power benefits for Tamil Nadu from KKNP

Shankar Sharma
Power Policy Analyst

While a massive opposition is being sustained by the locals against KNPP, authorities have been busy getting safety certifications from anyone and from everywhere. Authorities are also claiming that TN’s power deficit situation will be greatly improved by the 50% share it will get from the project. In this scenario the state’s population seem to be in a dilemma; whether to seek the operationlisation or cancelation of the project.

A rational analysis of the possible power benefits to TN from the project may help to clear the doubts. The following table provides an estimation of the power benefits to TN taking into account the constraints of power sector in India/TN. The summary of the information in the table indicates that the power benefit to the people of TN can only be about 405 MW gross. Keeping in view various losses in the end uses this benefit may not be more than 305 MW.

Net (MW: Mega Watts)


KKNP’s capacity: 2 *1,000


The sanctioned capacity of 2*1,000 MW may go to 4*1,000 MW if the ongoing negotiations with Russia gets to fruition
Average power output possible(@ 60% annual load factor)


A power plant will not produce at 100% installed capacity. Average annual load factor of the plant is assumed to be 60% though the Kalpakkam power plant (MAPS) has recorded load factor of 40-50% only during last 4 years.
(Average power output) – (Station auxiliary consumption)(@ 10% of power output)


10% assumed even though on an average Indian nuclear power plants consume about 12.5% of the power generated in them for their internal use.
TN’s share in KKNP(50% of net power output: i.e 50% of 1,080 MW)


TN’s share assumed to be 50% from the plant (on the basis of news reports) though the past practice has been to give less than 30% for the home state
Net power available to TN (after allowing for transmission and distribution losses of 25%)


T&D loss in TN assumed to be 25%, as against national level loss of 27%.
If we also take the inefficiency in end usage of about 20% into account, the net power from KKNP available for productive/welfare usage


As per Prayas Energy Group survey about 20% of the losses in the end usage of domestic appliances are incurred. Losses incurred in industries and agriculture are not taken into account.
For 4,000 MW installed capacity the net power available to TN


The society has to objectively consider whether the meager benefit of about 305 MW is worth all the credible risks associated with a nuclear power plant; especially because TN has already one nuclear power plant at Kalpakkam. The obvious question is whether there are benign alternatives to meet the legitimate demand for electricity in TN.

A rational analysis of the resources available to TN indicates that there are many such alternatives. The table below provides a high level estimation of benefits feasible from such benign alternatives. It should be noted that the benefits from the existing power network in TN can come at about approximately 20% of the cost of a new power plant, and without any of the deleterious impacts associated with the conventional power plants. The gestation period for obtaining such benefits is very small, and the benefits to the society are huge and perpetual.

Benign alternatives available in TN

Savings feasible from the existing power network



Benefits available by replacing all incandescent lamps in TN

>> 500

It is estimated that the Power savings feasible by replacing all incandescent lamps in the country  by CFLs is more than 10,000 MW
Savings feasible by reducing T&D losses in TN from 25% at present to about 10%


A saving of 15% of 10,500 MW (peak demand met by TN during April 2011 as per CEA report)
Savings due to loss reduction in end usage in various sectors of TN


Assumed to be about 25% of the actual power demand met, even though the potential for savings may be much higher
Benefits from Renewables


Wind power


Of the total TN potential of 5,500 MW capacity only 4,790 has been realized so far (as per TN energy department’s report).
Bio Mass


About 900 MW is the estimated potential from bio-mass and bagasse from sugar mills (as per TN energy department’s report)
Roof top Solar Photo Voltaic panels(2 kW each on top of 25 lakh houses)

>> 5,000

Assuming 25% of strong and economically sound houses in TN can install solar PV panels of 2 kW each on the roof top
Roof top Solar Photo Voltaic panels and solar water heaters on other buildings


Schools, colleges, offices, industries, public buildings, commercial establishments etc.

Effectively harnessing even a small percentage of the huge potential in renewable energy sources of the state can provide huge additional power capacity.

There are arguments that renewable energy sources are costly, and are not as reliable as conventional power plants. It should be reminded that the overall cost to the society of renewable energy sources will be much less in the medium to long term, and a careful integration of various alternatives available to the society will eliminate the need for KKNP, and can also help in shutting down MAPS in the near future. The capital cost of solar power has drastically reduced during the last few years, as exemplified by the low price bids seen in the second installment of the bidding process under National Solar Mission. The direct cost of solar power is expected to become competitive with coal power in two or three years.

A rational analysis of all the direct and indirect costs to the society of nuclear power plants as against the real benefits from many benign options available to the state can easily establish the futility of opting for nuclear power plants. The state has a good opportunity to set a model power policy for the country.

The country has no alternative but to diligently adopt such rational analysis of the demand and supply scenario in order to minimize the deleterious impacts of conventional power plants, and especially to eliminate the horrors of nuclear accidents.




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