Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Aug 28, 2004
Industry & Economy
`Nuclear power can be as cheap as Rs 3.22 a unit'
Work in progress at the site of the 500-MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor project at Kalpakkam on Friday. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, will grace the occasion of the `first pour of concrete' on Sunday. Shaju John
Kalpakkam , Aug. 27
THE country's nuclear establishment has promised to make available electricity at a much lower cost than power from conventional sources.
The 500-MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), under construction at Kalpakkam, will produce power for a price of Rs 3.22 a unit in the year 2011, Dr Baldev Raj, Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, said here on Friday.
"I do not want to make a commitment, but we expect to be able to bring down the cost to about Rs 3 a unit," he told a press conference. The Rs 3.22-a-unit is calculated on the assumption that the plant would operate at 60 per cent of its capacity, but officials are confident that it would perform better.
Other officials said the next set of fast breeder reactors there are four on the anvil will be able to produce power for a price of Rs 2.40 a unit. According to Mr S.C. Chetal, Director (Reactor Engineering), this is possible due to three factors: First, the cost of equipment would be lower because orders would be placed in larger volumes. Standardisation of design would help here.
Second, the time taken for construction would be shortened, thanks to the experience gained at the PFBR project. The officials point out that construction time for nuclear projects has been coming down. For instance, the Tarapur Unit-3 is likely to be completed in six years. The project is expected to go on stream by December. Similarly, the PFBR too is expected to be completed in six years.
Earlier, nuclear power plants took 7-8 years from start to finish. The officials expect further shortening of gestation period for future projects.
Third, better financial package would help bring down project cost and hence the cost of electricity produced, Mr Chetal said.
Meanwhile, the site for the PFBR project is being done up to receive the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, who will grace the occasion of the `first pour of concrete,' on Sunday.
A newly formed public sector company, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI), is implementing the Rs 3,492-crore PFBR project.
All order for equipment would be placed on the Indian industry. Already orders worth Rs 220 crore have been placed on various companies, including BHEL, L&T and MTR of Hyderabad.
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