India has a vibrant nuclear power programme with currently 14 units in operation, 9 under construction, and more new reactors planned (Table 9.3). There are 5 research reactors in operation (World Nuclear Association, 2003). Currently, nuclear power supplies less than 4% of the country’s electricity requirement. There is a target to reach 10% in 2005. Capacity factors are now much improved compared with a few years ago, reaching 85% in 2001-2002.

The Tarapur plants are increased capacity plants based on domestic technology and are expected to begin operation in 2004-2005. The other PHWRs will follow later; the Rawatbhata units are scheduled to be in operation by 2007. The design for future PHWRs, the first of these are likely to be Kakrapar 3 & 4, has now been raised to 680 MWe.

Table 9.3. Nuclear power reactors in India under construction or ready to start building


Reactor type

Capacity (MWe)

Start of construction

Start up

Tarapur 3 & 4





Kaiga 3 & 4





Rawatbhata 5 & 6





Kudankulam 1 & 2





Kalpakkam PFBR





Two large VVER-1000s are being built by Russia. The first unit is forecast to be commissioned in 2007.

The construction of a 500 MWe fast breeder reactor is in progress at Kalpakkam. This is contributing to the government’s objective to utilise India’s abundant thorium resource as a nuclear fuel. The intention is for this reactor to be operating in 2010. This reactor will be fuelled by uranium-plutonium-carbide fuel. The plutonium resource would come from currently existing PHWRs.

The intention is to develop an advanced heavy water reactor (AHWR) thorium cycle based of the following route. Existing PHWRs will burn natural uranium to produce plutonium. Fast-breeder reactors of the type above will then burn plutonium and breed U-233 from thorium. AHWRs will then burn the U-233 with thorium. The first AHWR is due to start construction in 2004.

There are plans to build a mix of reactor types to meet India’s requirements. The forward plan is to have a 300 MWe AHWR together with a mix of 500 MWe FBRs, 680 MWe PHWRs and 1000 MWe LWRs by 2020.

India’s civil nuclear strategy is to achieve complete independence in the fuel cycle. The country has a fuel fabrication facility at Hyderabad for PHWR and BWR. There are also spent fuel and reprocessing plants at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam. There is a waste immobilisation plant and storage facility at Tarapur.

Research is in progress in setting up a deep geological repository for high-level wastes.

The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam is working on fast reactor technology development. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre near Mumbai is working on thorium-based systems. In particular, the Centre is working on the AHWR. In addition, India is also developing accelerator-driven systems for driving sub-critical reactors.

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