After a slew of successes in installing and operating indigenous nuclear power plants within India, India now offers locally developed, factory-built, 250 MWe reactors to build nuclear power to G20 Nations.
News in Detail
India is in the news yet again. This time, it is not about digital tech that India is revolutionizing, but it is about the most advanced indigenously built 700 MWe Nuclear power reactor that is inching towards operations by early 2024.
Background information about India’s nuclear power plant
India initiated its atomic energy program in 1948, after gaining independence, under the guidance of Dr. Homi J. Bhabha. During the Cold War era from the 1950s, India adopted a non-aligned stance, which led to various challenges. Because of this stance, and later, India’s refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), she was denied the use of nuclear technology to build nuclear power plants using Western technology. Eventually, the USSR offered the technology, but uranium was not made available to India.Homi J Bhabha’s solutions
Dr. Bhabha developed a three-stage nuclear program to use India’s thorium reserves, anticipating challenges in accessing nuclear technology and materials.
The three-stage nuclear power programme
Dr. Bhabha envisioned a three-stage nuclear power program to efficiently utilize India’s resources:
Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR): In this first stage, natural uranium fuel is used in heavy water-moderated reactors. The spent fuel from this stage contains plutonium.
Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR): The second stage uses the plutonium obtained from the first stage to fuel Fast Breeder Reactors. These reactors breed more fuel than they consume, producing additional plutonium.
Thorium-Based Reactors: Given India’s rich thorium reserves, the third stage is designed to use uranium-233 obtained from the irradiation of thorium in the previous stages. This approach is geared towards achieving a long-term, sustainable energy supply.
Achievements and Milestones
First Indigenous Reactor: India’s first self-designed and constructed nuclear reactor, Apsara, went critical in 1956, marking a significant milestone.
Heavy Water Production: India developed the capability to produce heavy water, a crucial component for its PHWRs, indigenously.
Commercial Nuclear Power Generation: The Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, the first commercial nuclear power generating station, became operational in the early 1970s.
Fast Breeder Reactor: The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam is a testament to India’s stride towards the second stage of its nuclear power vision.
Thorium Research: India continues to invest in research on thorium-based reactor technologies, leveraging its vast thorium reserves.
To learn more about NPCIL’s achievements and Milestones, please visit the NPICL site.
PHWRs offered to G20 countries
India has achieved significant progress in the nuclear power sector by building and operating advanced pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) in the country. The Indian PHWR-based power plants are not only fail-safe but also cost-effective. India aims to offer this nuclear reactor, which is factory-built, to G20 countries.
India’s indigenous nuclear power journey embodies its spirit of self-reliance and determination. Despite obstacles, India leveraged its strengths, innovated, and forged ahead, ensuring that nuclear power remains a vital and sustainable component of its energy portfolio. India has finally achieved self-sufficiency in building nuclear tech, which once was the exclusive domain of the rich and privileged. She is now offering that tech to G20 countries.
To learn more about India’s ambitious nuclear power program visit NPCIL