India plans dedicated PHWR fuel plant

16 October 2009

[The Hindu Business Line, 16 October] India's Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) is planning to construct a 10 billion rupee ($216 million) fuel fabrication plant in Rawatbhata, Rajasthan. The plant will be dedicated to the production of fuel for four 700 MWe pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) under construction by Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL): two at Rawatbhata (Rajasthan units 7 and 8) and two in Gujarat state (Kakrapar units 3 and 4). R N Jayaraj, NFC's CEO, said that the fuel plant had already been approved by the Department of Atomic Energy and the pre-project sanction had been obtained from the government. The 500-tonne capacity fuel fabrication plant is expected to be completed by 2014, while the Rajasthan and Kakrapar units are scheduled for commissioning in 2014-15, he said. NFC's fabrication plant in Hyderabad currently has the capacity to meet fuel demand from India's 15 operating nuclear power reactors (with a total capacity of 4120 MWe), and future demand from three units nearing commissioning. Jayaraj noted that NPCIL plans to construct four further 700 MWe PHWRs after 2014 and NFC will then "have to decide either to expand in Rajasthan itself or create another new facility elsewhere" to meet the increased demand. Each reactor is estimated to need at least 125 tonnes of fuel annually.