September 12, 2008

Nuclear Supply to Ensure Doubled Electricity Production in India

Text of report by Indian news agency PTI

New Delhi, [Friday] 12 September: Elated over the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) waiver, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is confident that uninterrupted fuel supplies can help double the power production from its atomic plants through greater capacity utilization.

The state-owned nuclear energy generator, which currently runs 17 reactors in different parts of the country, hopes to produce up to 4,000 MW power without any hiccups once there are regular fuel supplies.

"The current plant load factor of the nuclear units being operated by NPCIL is around 40 to 42 per cent on account of fuel supply mismatch, as against 85 to 90 per cent, at which they can operate," Chairman and Managing Director of NPCIL S.K. Jain told PTI.

The capacity utilization of the country's power plants aggregating 4,120 MW came down from 90 per cent in 2001-02 to 40-42 [per cent] due to lack of fuel, he said. But with the NSG lifting the nuclear trade embargo India could get off the ground and give a push to civilian nuclear programme. The prospects of assured fuel supplies also augured well for the new atomic plants. NPCIL is all set to add over 2,600 MW of power generation to the national grid by 2010 from its five units under construction.

However, before getting the nuclear fuel, Jain said India has to conclude agreements with NSG countries for uninterrupted supplies.

"The agreement with various governments, namely US, France and Russia, being negotiated by the government of India have to be operationalized," Jain said.

The proposed Civil Nuclear Liability Act would also be required to be enacted by parliament as soon as possible.

"After this only it would be possible to get any fuel or other supplies from NSG countries. As per the present plan, it may take anywhere between three and four months to negotiate a contract and receive the uranium supply," the NPCIL chief said.

NPCIL, a public-sector undertaking spearheading India's nuclear power programme, has 17 reactors under its wing and five reactors are under construction in various stages.

The NSG waiver will not only facilitate induction of latest civilian nuclear technology to India but the country is set to attract massive global investment worth billions of dollars for generation of nuclear power.

It is expected that the nuclear agreement with the US may allow India to generate additional 40,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020.

Originally published by PTI news agency, New Delhi, in English 0649 12 Sep 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring South Asia. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.