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Energy in India's Future: Insights

Energy in India's Future: Insights

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Published by Ifri Energie
A comprehensive series of articles investigating all aspects of India's energy sector.
A comprehensive series of articles investigating all aspects of India's energy sector.

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Published by: Ifri Energie on Jan 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The 2008 agreements ended 34 years of trade isolation on
nuclear materials and technology. New options are now open
for India nuclear power generation.

When the agreements are signed, India was operating
17 nuclear power reactors for a total capacity of 3.8 GWe. All
are of small capacity (less than 500 MWe). With an output of
17.5 TWh, nuclear power accounted for 2.5% of total elec-
tricity generation in 2005 which amounted to 699 TWh. The

Nuclear power in India


© Ifri, 2009

latter figure shows that per capita electricity generation is one
of the lowest in the world, comparable to that of Mozambique.

Today coal is the dominant fuel in India’s electricity gener-
ation with a share close to 70%, which is likely to stay
unchanged over the next decades. Gas-fired generation
accounted for 9% and renewables, mostly hydropower, for

According to the Reference Scenario of the International
Energy Agency—less optimistic than the Indian one—elec-
tricity generation is projected to grow by 6.6% per year in the
period 2005–2015; the average annual increase should be 5.7%
in the period 2005–2030. Even with this more conservative
hypothesis total capacity additions between 2006 and 2015 are
projected to amount to 410 GW, including the replacement of
some older power plants.

There is clearly room for a huge development of nuclear
power. Not only the overall growth for electricity generation is
high, but the government has expressed concerns about
growing import bills: 66% of gas and oil is currently imported,
and imported coal is expected to increase from 12% (2005) to
28% (2030) of coal primary demand. The prime minister has
put an emphasis on nuclear energy and solar energy to play a
more important role in addressing India’s energy security
needs. Regarding nuclear power, the target of 40 GW by 2020
is now frequently mentioned.

Nuclear reactors under construction in October 2008 will
add only 3 GW to the present capacity. Nuclear generation
will reach 6.8 GW by 2010 if the six new reactors are commis-
sioned on schedule. These new reactors consist in three pres-
surized heavy water reactors of 202 MWe each, the prototype
fast breeder reactor of 500 MWe and two pressurized light
water reactors (PWRs) of 950 MWe each.

The two PWRs are being supplied by Russia and are
VVER 1000 reactors. It will be the country’s first large nuclear
power plant, under a Russian-financed US$ 3 billion contract.
The two units are being built by NPCIL at Kudankulam and
will be commissioned and operated by NPCIL under IAEA
safeguards. Unlike other Russian turnkey projects, such as in


Energy in India’s Future Insights

© Ifri, 2009

Iran, there are only about 80 Russian supervisory staff in India.
Most of the work has been undertaken by NPCIL staff. Russia
will supply all the enriched fuel, though India will reprocess it
and keep the plutonium. India will also keep the reprocessed
uranium (still slightly enriched compared with natural

The Russian contract may be a model for future import
with three main characteristics:

• Most of the financing by the exporter

• Supply of enriched fuel by the exporter

• Large transfer of technology to Indian staff

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