India debuts largest nuclear reactor
India has successfully connected its largest domestically built nuclear reactor to the grid. This step will bolster the plans of deploying technology to help the world’s third-biggest polluter limit emissions.
In the western state of Gujarat, the 700-megawatt pressurized heavy water reactor of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station is the first of 16 planned units that will help balance the grid against growing intermittent renewable generation.
India’s atomic energy secretary, K.N. Vyas said, “Renewables are less capital intensive and can be implemented much more quickly. Yet, they need to be balanced with more stable power. Nuclear provides clean base load power and that makes it an important element of our climate strategy.”
According to Debasish Mishra, who is a Mumbai-based partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, “India is counting on its nuclear program to help meet its Paris climate commitments to reduce the emissions intensity of its economy by a third from 2005 levels by 2030. So far, domestic built reactors have avoided cost-run-ups that have hit projects planned with overseas technologies.”
Last week, Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd (NPCL) connected the reactor to the grid. It is expected that it will start 5 more units through March 2027. NCPL is placing orders for another 10 to be commissioned by 2031.
According to the state monopoly, the combined cost of the fleet is estimated at about 1.5 trillion rupees ($20.4 billion).
Currently, the existing nuclear generation capacity of India is 6.8 gigawatts. This accounts for roughly 2% of the nation’s total capacity.
About 53% of India’s installed base is made up of Coal-fired generation, but its share has been declining in favour of cleaner generation and renewable power.