Small modular reactors
The NPCIL has got into two major joint ventures with IOC and NTPC for expansion of the nuclear power sector | Photo: PTI file

India working on small modular reactors; may help with clean energy shift: Minister

Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh said on Tuesday (May 23) that India has been working on new technologies such as small modular reactors that can be factory-built and help the country make a transition to clean energy.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) have a capacity of up to 300 MW and are flexible in design. Being mobile and agile technology, SMR can be factory-built unlike the conventional nuclear reactors that are built onsite.

“We are adapting fast”

Singh, in an interview to PTI, also said the government has opened up the nuclear power sector for joint ventures with public sector undertakings but not for the private sector.

Many SMR designs are under various stages of research. According to a recent NITI Aayog report, the growth of the SMR industry would require development and licensing in different countries, global regulatory harmonisation, a manufacturing ecosystem, and public and private capital.

Also read: Goodbye nuclear power! Germany shuts down its last atomic energy plants

“We are already working on it. I think as the time comes, we have to move with the world. SMR may become the order of the day. We are open to these new technologies and we are also adapting to them very fast,” Singh said.

Big steps in nuclear power

The minister said for the first time, the Modi government had approved a proposal to build 10 nuclear reactors under “fleet mode”.

The state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) builds and operates almost all the atomic power plants in the country. In 2015, the government amended the Atomic Energy Act to enable joint ventures between the NPCIL and public sector companies to build nuclear power projects.

“Earlier, they were not partnering with anybody. So, we naturally had constraints on resources and finances. Now, we already have two important partnerships with Indian Oil Corporation and NTPC. We have moved in that direction, though not yet with the private sector,” said Singh.

Also read: A slew of ‘green’ and ‘clean energy’ initiatives in Union Budget 2023

Capacity boost

Earlier this month, the NPCIL signed a supplementary joint venture agreement with National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to develop two 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh and four 700 MW PHWRs at Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan.

The NPCIL has also formed joint ventures with Indian Oil Nuclear Energy and Nalco Power Company Limited for expansion of the nuclear power sector.

India’s current installed nuclear power capacity is 6780 MW and it plans to add 21 more atomic power generating units with a total installed capacity of 15,700 MW by 2031.

(With agency inputs)

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