India's first pair of indigenously designed 700 MWe pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) are now officially under construction with the first pouring of concrete at Kakrapar 3 and 4.
Ground breaking for the two units, in Gujarat state, began in January 2010 and excavation works and other preparatory site works were completed by August, in record time according to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). Approval from India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was needed before concrete pouring could go ahead. The units are slated to start up in 2015 and 2016.
Indian plans call for 20,000 MWe of nuclear capacity to be on line by 2020 and 63,000 MWe by 2032, with nuclear supplying 25% of the country's electricity by 2050. It already has 19 operating reactors totalling 4183 MWe, and Kakrapar 3 and 4 mean the country now has 6 reactors under construction, the others being a 220 MWe PHWR at Kaiga 4, two 1000 MWe Russian-design VVER pressurised water reactors at Kudankulam, plus the 500 MWe Kalpakkam prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR). All are scheduled to start up by mid-2011, although reports earlier this year suggested that the Kalpakkam PFBR could be delayed by up to a year.
NPCIL's 700 MWe PHWR design is a scaled-up version of its 540 MWe design, two of which have been in operation at Tarapur 3 and 4 since 2005. Two more 700 MWe PHWRs are to be built at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan, referred to as RAPP 7 and 8. Ground breaking took place at Rawatbhata in August 2010, and NPCIL now says that first concrete is expected by March 2011.
Meanwhile, reports in the Indian press suggest that another proposed nuclear construction site at Jaitapur in Maharashtra could be nearer to gaining necessary governmental clearance. According to the Business Standard, citing Maharashtra state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has indicated to the Maharashtra state government that it is willing to permit the project to go ahead. Ministry clearance is seen as an essential step in the permitting process for the site, earmarked for up to six Areva-supplied EPR pressurised water reactors.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News