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Business News/ Markets / Stock Markets/  As India expands its nuclear power capacity, Reliance, Tata Power, Adani Power, Vedanta are at the forefront

As India expands its nuclear power capacity, Reliance, Tata Power, Adani Power, Vedanta are at the forefront

The government of India is actively expanding renewable energy capacity to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, aiming to meet 50% of electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030. Plans include increasing nuclear power capacity to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.

NPCIL currently operates 23 reactors with a combined capacity of 7480 MW, and nine additional units (including KAPP-4) with a capacity of 7500 MW are currently under construction. (Bloomberg)Premium
NPCIL currently operates 23 reactors with a combined capacity of 7480 MW, and nine additional units (including KAPP-4) with a capacity of 7500 MW are currently under construction. (Bloomberg)

In a world where our population is booming and our reliance on technology is ever-growing, the demand for electricity has never been greater. From keeping our mobile phones charged to powering our homes and businesses, electricity is the lifeblood of modern society.

However, as we strive to meet this demand, we're faced with a pressing challenge to lower carbon dioxide emissions. In recent years, India has been making significant strides in transitioning from coal-based power to renewable energy sources.

While coal still remains a major component of India's energy mix, the country has been actively expanding its renewable energy capacity to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change.

Also Read: Best renewable energy stock: KP Energy vs Inox Wind

The installed electricity generating capacity in the country at present is 417 GW, comprising 179 GW from non-fossil fuel sources, which is about 43% of the total installed electricity generating capacity, according to the Ministry of Power.

The country has set an ambitious goal of installing 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030, achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, and meeting 50% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2030, marking a momentous milestone in the global effort against climate change.

Currently, the country holds the 4th position globally for installed renewable energy capacity, including large hydro. It ranks fourth in both wind power capacity and solar power capacity.

Also Read: Climate action: Our energy transition need not follow preset pathways

However, the generation of power from nuclear energy, another renewable source, remains low compared to other renewable sources in the country. Nonetheless, steps have been initiated to increase nuclear power capacity to fulfil the goal of achieving a 50% energy mix from non-fossil fuels.

Nuclear power is a clean and environmentally friendly source of base-load electricity generation, available round the clock. Nuclear power plants in the country have generated over 833 billion units of clean electricity, resulting in the saving of approximately 716 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, as per the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

India was among the pioneers in adopting nuclear energy. In 1948, just one year after gaining independence, the country enacted its first Atomic Energy Act and embarked on the journey of nuclear energy development. Initially, India introduced small reactors manufactured by General Electric, eventually becoming the first Asian nation to operate nuclear power plants in 1969.

Powering the future

In August of last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a 700 MW nuclear power plant, entirely developed within India, situated in Kakrapar, Gujarat. This plant is currently operating at full capacity. Additionally, nuclear power plant projects with a capacity of 700 MW each are underway at two other locations: Rawatbhata in Rajasthan (RAPS 7 and 8) and Gorakhpur in Haryana (GHAVP 1 and 2).

Also Read: IREDA planning arm to finance rooftop solar, electric vehicles

On December 17, 2023, Unit 4 of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP 4–700 MW) reached a significant milestone by achieving criticality, marking the commencement of a controlled fission chain reaction, for the first time. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is overseeing the construction of sixteen 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) across the country, having received both financial and administrative approvals for these projects.

NPCIL currently operates 23 reactors with a combined capacity of 7480 MW, and nine additional units (including KAPP-4) with a capacity of 7500 MW are currently under construction. Furthermore, 10 more reactors, with a total capacity of 7000 MW, are in pre-project phases, anticipated to be completed progressively by 2031-32.

Also Read: Nuclear energy is clean but too risky to rely on

Meanwhile, the government has approved plans to establish a 6 x 1208 MW nuclear power plant in collaboration with the USA at Kovvada in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh. Looking ahead, nuclear power is expected to play a crucial role in achieving the goal of net zero emissions by 2070.

The government has set a target of reaching a nuclear power capacity of 22,480 MW by 2023–2022, a significant increase from the current capacity of 7480 MW. Notably, the installed nuclear power capacity in 2013–14 was recorded at 4780 MW. Currently, nuclear power accounts for just 2% of the country's total electricity generation.

Entry of private players 

The government is looking to invite private firms to invest about $26 billion in the nuclear energy sector. The government is in talks with at least five private firms, including Reliance Industries, Tata Power, Adani Power, and Vedanta, to invest around 44,000 crore each, news agency Reuters reported on February 20. 

This is the first time that the government is pursuing private investment in nuclear power. The Department of Atomic Energy and the state-run Nuclear Power Corp of India (NPCIL) have held multiple rounds of discussions with private companies in the past year on the investment plan, the report added. 

Under the funding plan, the private companies will make investments in the nuclear plants, acquire land and water, and undertake construction in areas outside the reactor complex of the plants.

However, the rights to build and run the stations and their fuel management will rest with NPCIL, as allowed under the law. The private companies are expected to earn revenue from the power plant's electricity sales, and NPCIL would operate the projects for a fee, according to the report.

Disclaimer: The views and recommendations given in this article are those of individual analysts. These do not represent the views of Mint. We advise investors to check with certified experts before making any investment decisions.


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Published: 26 Feb 2024, 04:16 PM IST
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