“In mid-2008, nuclear plants were running at half capacity due to chronic shortage of fuel. The average load factor for India’s power reactors was below 60% over 2006-2010, reaching only 40% in 2008,” said KL Ramakumar, radiochemistry and isotope group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, on the second day of Engineers’ Conclave.
Ramakumar added, “Following the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s waiver in September 2008, the scope for supply of nuclear fuel from other countries demonstrates the fruits that have gone into realising the civil nuclear cooperation.”
Till date, India has signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia, US, France, UK, South Korea, Canada, Czech Republic, Argentine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Namibia. Stating that the deal paved the way for facilitating supply of uranium fuel to India’s reactors under IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards, Ramakumar said, “The (power) generated from safeguarded civil nuclear fuel reactors resulted in an increase in electricity production, and additionally no extra contribution to greenhouse gases.”
In addition to importing uranium, negotiations are also underway with France, US and Russia for the construction of imported light water reactors. The atomic energy establishment plans to import 28 light water reactors with an installed capacity of 35,500 megawatts.
With the aim to localise manufacturing nuclear components, the Indian industry has signed Memorandums of Understanding with international players. “Within six years since 2009, the civil nuclear cooperation has led to seamless integration of India into global nuclear entities to realize our energy independence and security.”