Justice B G Kolse Patil’s comment:

When all the authorities claim that the proposed nuclear power plants will be the safest ones in all respect, why the suppliers are worried about our weakest liability bill in case of accidents. The industry and its supporters are the liars of the first order. Even about the cost factor our people are being mislead. When we are blessed with innumerable natural energy resources why are we running after NPP? Only to support the super powers or to corrupt our politicians and bureocrats.

(on the original article on LiveMint)

Higher estimate due to added safety features; French regulator to complete review of measures by year-end

Live Mint, September 30, 2011.

Nuclear power generated at the upcoming Jaitapur plant in Maharashtra is expected to cost Rs.4 per unit after incorporating additional safety features when its first unit becomes operational in 2017, compared with an average cost of Rs.2.50 at nuclear plants today.

French firm Areva SA, the major vendor and technology supplier for state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd’s (NPCIL’s) 9,900 megawatts (MW) nuclear project at Jaitapur, proposed new safety measures after an earthquake and tsunami caused an accident in March at Japan’s Fukushima plant.

French nuclear regulator Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) will complete a review of the proposed measures by the year-end, said Srikumar Banerjee, chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and secretary in the department of atomic energy.

“Whatever the cost might be, we will incorporate all safety measures recommended by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB, which will eventually review the proposals, too), but even in such a situation, I don’t expect the per-unit cost of the nuclear power will be more than Rs.4 per unit in 2017,” Banerjee told reporters in Mumbai on Thursday on the sidelines of the India Nuclear Energy Summit, a three-day meeting of nuclear suppliers and officials.

The rate will be comparable to the prevailing rate for thermal power in 2017, when the 1,650MW first unit of the Jaitapur plant is expected to become operational, Banerjee said.

India currently has 20 nuclear power plants with installed capacity of 4,760MW. It plans to boost nuclear capacity to 20,000MW by 2020 and 50,000MW by 2030. But the Fukushima accident, the world’s biggest nuclear disaster in 25 years, raised concerns about the safety of existing and proposed projects. “We have submitted new safety measures to ASN earlier this month and we expect to have detailed discussion on these measures with the regulator over next two months, and the regulator will be coming out with its final recommendations in December,” said Francois Bouteille, vice-president, safety and licensing, Areva. “The same recommendations will be forwarded to the Indian regulator AERB for its consideration.”

Current industry estimates are that power from Jaitapur will be betweenRs.3.25 and Rs.3.50. So when Banerjee says despite adding additional safety features, power from Jaitapur power plant will cost around Rs.4 per unit, he is bang on target, said Kameswara Rao, energy, mining and utility practice leader and executive director at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd.

Unlike coal-fired power plants, where 65-75% of the per unit cost is cost of fuel, in nuclear power plants, capital cost comprises 80% of total cost while the fuel cost is only around 10-15%. So nuclear power plants are more economical over the years, Rao said. AEC’s Banerjee also said the drafting of implementation rules under India’s civil nuclear liability law “has been completed and (they are) likely to be placed before Parliament during the forthcoming winter session”.

The law to make suppliers liable for nuclear accidents at plants was passed last year, but its rules of implementation are yet to be framed. The supplier’s liability clause in the law has made foreign as well as Indian vendors worried about their liability in the case of accident. The government has tried to calm anxious vendors by asking them to wait for the framing of implementation rules under the law.