India planning major expansion of its nuclear-power capacity

January 5th, 2010 - 1:51 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, January 5 (ANI): Reports indicate that India is planning a major expansion of its nuclear-power capacity.

According to a report in Nature News, Srikumar Banerjee, head of the India’s Atomic Energy Commission, said that the country is planning to increase nuclear power generation to 60 gigawatts by about 2035, from the current 4.7 gigawatts produced from 18 reactors.

By increasing the nuclear capacity to 60 gigawatts, it would be roughly 10 percent of expected total installed capacity.

“India’s established reserve of uranium will allow us to raise our installed capacity only to 10 gigawatts,” he said.

We are intensifying our efforts to search for uranium in the country, but that takes time. But now that the Nuclear Suppliers Group (the international group that oversees nuclear exports) has relaxed its guidelines, we can access international markets,” he added.

Agreements with the United States, France and Russia on civilian nuclear cooperation have been signed.

“Negotiations between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and companies in France and Russia are under way for finalizing the import of nuclear reactors, and we have already placed a purchase order for uranium with Kazakhstan,” said Banerjee.

According to Banerjee, “We will add eight to ten 700-megawatt pressurized heavy-water reactors, several fast-breeder reactors and an advanced heavy-water reactor, all of indigenous design.”

“Concurrently, we will set up light-water reactors in technical cooperation with foreign vendors. These imported reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000-1,650 megawatts, will be set up on energy parks at coastal sites including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal,” he said.

“We are also in the process of identifying stable underground geological sites for long-term storage of nuclear waste,” he added.

India has said it will reprocess imported nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, which can be used to build weapons.

If this has made it difficult to strike deals with international partners, Banerjee said, “India has committed to adopting the closed fuel cycle option, in which the plutonium recovered from spent fuel is utilized for energy production using fast-breeder reactors.”

“We have always emphasized that we should have the right to reprocess imported nuclear fuel to separate plutonium, under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, of course,” he added.

As to the question whether India’s civilian nuclear programme is completely separate from its weapons programme, Banerjee said, “Indian strategic programme is 100 percent indigenous and has no relation whatsoever to the proposed international civilian nuclear cooperation.” (ANI)

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