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Saturday, Jun 15, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Alternative Energy

India contributes to nuclear renaissance with 18 new reactors

The reactors represent the largest indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors in India

India contributes to nuclear renaissance with 18 new reactors
Units 1 and 2 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, India. Image from Reetesh Chaurasia via Wikimedia Commons.

India intends to add another 18 nuclear reactors to its national energy offerings by 2031-2032, which will bring the country’s entire nuclear power capacity to 22.4 gigawatts (GW).

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) announced on Wednesday that the new reactors will collectively add another 13.8 GW of electricity. At present, the organization operates 24 nuclear reactors with a present combined capacity of 8.1GW.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated two 700MW locally built reactors at Kakrapar in Gujarat in February 2024, marking the announcement’s timing. These new units, known as the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS 3 and 4), have significantly boosted the facility’s total capacity to 1.8GW.

Unit 3 commenced operations in August 2023, while Unit 4 achieved its first milestone in December of the same year and was connected to the western power grid just two days before the Prime Minister’s visit. Construction on the units started in 2010, involving pouring 1.4 million cubic meters of concrete and using 21,000 tonnes of structural steel for the necessary structures.

The reactors represent the largest indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors (PWHRs) in India and incorporate advanced safety measures.

“These reactors have been designed, constructed, commissioned and operated by NPCIL, with the supply of equipment and execution of contracts by Indian industries and companies, reflecting the true spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India),” NPCIL said in a statement.

India is expanding its nuclear power capacity, with four 1GW reactors being constructed with Russian assistance at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, and four 700MW PHWRs under construction at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan and Gorakhpur in Haryana.

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Indian government seeking $26B in private investment

Additionally, the government has sanctioned the construction of ten more 700MW PHWRs across various locations including Gorakhpur, Kaiga in Karnataka, Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, and Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan.

To support this expansion and decarbonize the power sector, the Indian government is seeking USD$26 billion in private investment for its nuclear energy industry. Government sources indicate that talks are under way with at least five private companies, including Reliance Industries, Tata Power, Adani Power, and Vedanta, to invest a substantial amount each.

In a related development, the Solar Energy Corporation of India has commissioned a 40MW/120 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery energy storage system in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh, alongside a 152.3MWh solar plant.

The recent development in India is part of a larger trend wherein countries all over the world are turning to nuclear energy as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.

In 2022, nuclear plants supplied 2545 TWh of electricity throughout the world, a decrease from 2653 TWh in 2021.

According to the World Nuclear Association, civil nuclear power has accumulated more than 20,000 reactor years of experience with operational nuclear power plants in 31 countries worldwide. Many other countries rely partially on nuclear-generated power through regional transmission grids.

The commercial nuclear industry started n the 1960s and initially had divisions between Eastern and Western sectors. However, today, international commerce characterizes the nuclear industry.

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Nuclear renaissance bodes well for uranium demand

Beyond providing low-carbon energy, nuclear technology serves diverse purposes, including disease control, assisting doctors in diagnosis and treatment, and powering ambitious space exploration missions. These multifaceted applications place nuclear technologies at the forefront of global efforts to achieve sustainable development.

In 2022, thirteen countries produced at least one-quarter of their electricity from nuclear. France derives up to around 70 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy, while Ukraine, Slovakia, Belgium, and Hungary obtain about half of their electricity from nuclear sources. Japan used to rely on nuclear power for more than one-quarter of its electricity and expects to return to somewhere near that level.

And uranium isn’t just good for the war against climate change, either.

Uranium offers a longer-term advantage over fossil fuels due to its low impact on the final electricity production costs in the face of increased fuel prices. This is because a significant portion of these costs lies in the capital cost of the plant. This insensitivity to fuel price fluctuations provides a means to stabilize power prices in deregulated markets.

The resurgence of nuclear power will have positive downstream effects as well, as the demand for high quality uranium increases as more plants open. This means companies like Cameco Corporation (TSX: CCO) (NYSE: CCJ), ATHA Energy Corp. (CSE: SASK) (FRA: X5U) (OTCQB: SASKF) and Stallion Uranium Corp. (TSXV: STUD) (OTCQB: STLNF), operating in Canada’s Athabasca Basin, will have their hands full in the next few years.

 

ATHA Energy Corp. is a sponsor of Mugglehead news coverage

 

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