Nuclear could develop alongside Indian heavy industry

09 July 2007

A site in India's Orissa state is under investigation for suitability for a 4-6000 MWe nuclear power plant, according to the local government energy minister, Surya Narayan Patro.

The potential new plant at Pati Sonapur, in Orissa's Ganjam district, would be India's largest by far, providing on its own more than the country's entire current nuclear capacity of 3779 MWe. Another 2976 MWe of nuclear capacity is under construction.

The minister told the state assembly that Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) had already proposed a drilling program to assess the site's suitability. In remarks made to Hindustan Times reporters, he said the state had taken no decision on the NPCIL proposal, and that the region was a "thickly populated area."

S Thakur of NPCIL told the newspaper: "In anticipation of India being able to get international cooperation and access to nuclear technology, we are thinking of setting up large capacity nuclear power plants." He added that Orissa's coal reserves had made that resource the most economic for power production, but that access to the international market in uranium would make nuclear power more competitive in the region.

Orissa is a state on India's east coast, densely populated with over 36 million people and holding a large share of India's mineral resources. It is a rapidly emerging industrial area, earmarked for Special Economic Zone status. Up to $90 billion of investment in heavy industry is planned, including several extremely large aluminium, steel and petrochemical plants. It was the first Indian state to privatise its electricity transmission and distribution.

The state's electricity demand is projected at 17.5 TWh for 2007-8, with that to grow by 12.5% to 19.7 TWh in 2008-9. In 2008 the Orissa Electricity Regulation Commission expects 18.1 TWh to be generated, with the surplus sold across India's eastern grid.

To keep up with demand, Patro said independent power producers had signed 13 memoranda of understanding with the state to build generation capacity of 16,000 MWe.

Further information

Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL)

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