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Nuclear Power Programme: Stage-I

Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors

For the Indian Nuclear Power Progrmme, that took off in the sixties, PHWR was the reactor of choice for the first stage of the programme. However, to gain operational experience, initially an atomic power station comprising two boiling water reactors (BWR) was set up at Tarapur, Maharashtra. This was a turnkey project of the General Electric of USA. Commissioned in 1969, the station is still in operation.

The first two PHWRs, at Rawatbhata, Rajasthan, started commercial production in 1973 and 1981. The first unit (RAPS-1) was built with the help of the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (External website that opens in a new window) (AECL). However, the second unit was completed with the indigenous research and development endeavour and the support of the Indian industry. This success followed commissioning of the two 220 MWe reactors at Kalpakkam near Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in the years 1984 and 1986. Later, the design of the 220 MWe PHWR was standardized and two reactors of this design were commissioned at Narora, Uttar Pradesh, in 1991 and 1992.

The design standardisation has markedly reduced gestation period of new reactors. This technology of PHWR reached commercial maturity with the commissioning of two 220 MWe PHWRs at Kakrapar (Gujarat) in 1993 and 1995. In the year 2000, four state-of-the-art 220 MWe PHWRs, two each at Kaiga (Karnataka) and Rawatbhata (Rajasthan) came online. One more 220 MWe PHWR was commissioned at Kaiga in May 2007.

The reactor design of 220 MWe PHWR was successfully scaled up to 540 MWe. Two reactors of this scaled-up design have been successfully commissioned at Tarapur, in the years 2005 and 2006. The gestation period of the reactors has also been reduced drastically.

The growing experience of NPCIL in nuclear technology has resulted in improving performance of its nuclear power plants. It has embarked on the design of 700 MWe PHWRs with the same fissile inventory as the 540 MWe reactors.

The nuclear power generation has risen from 3000 million units in the year 1981-82 to 17794 million units for the calendar year 2006.

Ongoing Projects

A total capacity of 3160 megawatt is under construction. It comprises three 220 MWe Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors, two at Rawatbhata (RAPP-5&6) and one at Kaiga (Kaiga-2&$), two Pressurised Water Reactors of 1000 MWe each at Kudankulam and one 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam.

New Projects

The Government of India has also given, in principle, site approvals for setting up 8 additional nuclear power reactors aggregating 6800 MWe. These will consist of 700 MWe. PHWrs and 1000 MWe Light Water Reactors to be located at Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu), Kakrapar (Gujarat), Rawatbhata (Rajasthan) and Jaitapur (Maharashtra).

DAE has an ambitious nuclear power programme that aims at achieving an installed nuclear power capacity of 20,000 MWe by the year 2020, through internal resources and external collaborations.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 09-02-2011