India was one of the first countries to adopt nuclear power technology with the commissioning of the Tarapur power station in 1969. Indigenous technology has driven nuclear power production in the country and only in recent years, foreign participation is coming in the sector after the Civil Nuclear Agreement with the US.
Why nuclear energy is important for India?
Nuclear energy has to play an important role in India’s energy scenario from three angles. First is that unlike renewables, nuclear sources can provide bulk energy in a certain manner (without uncertainty) to the base load. The Kudankulalm power projects’ two reactors have added 2000 MW electricity to the southern states. Secondly, nuclear energy is a clean energy source and hence is very important to attain carbon free energy economy. Thirdly, nuclear energy enhances energy independence and energy security especially with the potential use of domestically available thorium input use.
Nuclear energy capacity
Power production is picking up significantly and the twenty-second reactor in the country was commissioned with the operation of the Kundankulam Nuclear Power Project’s second reactor in July 2016. Nuclear energy production in the country is estimated to be at 6780 MW from the seven sites and twenty-two reactors.
The target is to triple nuclear energy production to 17.3 GW by 2024. A long term target of realizing 25% share for nuclear energy in total power production is on mission mode.
Shortage of nuclear fuel is the hurdle in limiting production in most reactors. The Plant Load Factor is around 60% for several plants because of unavailability of inputs.