Bangalore: The country plans to build eight 700-MW nuclear plants to boost its nuclear power generation capacity to about 10,000 MW and is stepping up exploration to uncover new uranium mines, a top Atomic Energy Commission official has said.
At present, the country has a nuclear power generation capacity of 4,000 MW but its reactors are facing a crunch in uranium, which is used as fuel for power generation. Existing plants are now operating at around 50% capacity due to the lack of fuel.
With the known sources of uranium, the country could generate only around 10,000 MW, the official said, adding that the emphasis is now on expanding the uranium inventory by opening new mines and mineral processing, so that the current shortage could be overcome.
“With new mines getting ready and quantity of uranium produced being increased, we have a plan to go for eight new generation 700-MW reactors, for which the design is ready. We will start construction soon and are just awaiting for the fuel linkage,” director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Srikumar Banerjee, told PTI here in an interview.
He said eight reactors of 700 MW would add a capacity of 5,600 MW, taking the overall figure to 9,600 MW.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to get fresh mines, because the geological formation of the country is such that there is good expectation of new uranium mines,“ Banerjee, who is also member of the Atomic Energy Commission, said.
He mentioned Rajasthan and Karnataka as probable sites where uranium could be found.
According to him, geological exploration is being extended in a major way now. “We will be surveying deep underground. So far, survey has been done mostly on the surface. Now with new techniques, we should be able to survey much deeper and see whether there is any possibility of new uranimum mines.”
Banerjee expressed the view that raising the nuclear power generation capacity to 10,000 MW was not a problem at all. But for going beyond that and increasing the capacity much faster, India needs to have uranium “from other places”.