The importance of nuclear energy of meet long term energy needs of the country was reconised quite early. The programme started with the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission F August 10, 1948 with Dr. Homi J. Bhabhaasi Chairman.
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE I the executive arm of the AEC was formed in 19 Same year the Atomic Energy Institute, Trombi came into being which was later on renamed) Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in 1961 With the aim of accelerating the development o I nuclear energy, the Nuclear Power Corporation d I India Limited (NPCIL) was incorporated in 19811 The corporation has full authority for the construction, supervision and maintenance of nuclear power I stations.
The fuel supply and component parts to the reactors of the nuclear power plants are provided 1 I the Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad while the work of survey, exploration and development of atomic minerals has been entrusted to the Atomit Mineral Division (AMD). At present the NPCIL owns nine nuclear power stations and is operating
Unit-I of Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) of 100 MWe Capacity on behalf of the DAE. The total installed nuclear power base is 1840 MWe.
In India the development of nuclear energy programme has been accomplished in three phases: (1) 1948-56 : Apsara, the first research reactor attaining criticality in 1956; (2) 1956-66 : development of different technological facilities; and (3) 1966 onwards : designing and commission nuclear power stations. India’s first nuclear station at Tarapur (near Mumbai), startedgenei power in October 1969. Since then six more power stations have been commissioned at (1972), Kalpakkam (1984), Narora (1989), Kaki (1993), Kaigaand Rawatbhata.
The NPCIL has taken up massive programme for the development of nuclear energy during the Eighth and Ninth Five Year Plans. This includes construction of one new atomic power station at Kaiga (Karnataka) with two units having capacity of eating 235 MW of electricity each; launching expansion programme to set up 6 additional up (two with capacity of 235 MW each and four capacity of 500 MW each) at Rawatbhata, two additional units at Tarapur (each with capacity of 500 MW), and four additional units at Kaiga (each with capacity of 235 MW), Besides negations are in final stage with the Government of Russia to set up an atomic power station at Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu) with two units; each with capacity of generating 1,000 MW of electricity. The Deptt. Of Atomic Energy (DAE) has fixed up a target of 10,000 mw of generation capacity of nuclear energy by 2.000 AD.
India has advanced well into the second stage of its three-stage strategy formulated in the light of its natural resources of uranium and thorium. Accordingly a number of research reactors have been built up to carry on research in the development of nuclear energy. These include Apsara (1 mw, 1956), Cirus (40 mw, 1960), Zerlina (1961) Purnima-I (1972), Purnima-II (1984), Dhruva (100 mw, 1985), Kamini and Purnima-III (1990).
The first stage envisages production of energy and pluto- nium by using natural uranium dioxide based fuel in heavy water moderated and cooled pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs). In the second stage, the fissile plutonium contained in the spent fuel from the PHWRs is separated in fuel reprocessing plants.
It uses plutonium to breed uranium-233 from thorium while at the same time producing energy through fast breeder reactors. Using FBRs. indigenously available atomic minerals have the potential of generating 50.000 GWe-year of electricity. Accordingly 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactors are being designed. In the third stage, dedicated breeder reactors based on uranium-233 and thorium are planned to be constructed. These reactors would serve as the mainstay of the final, thorium utilisation stage, of the country’s nuclear programme. The currently known Indian thorium reserves amount to 200.000 Gweyr of electrical energy Andean easily meet the energy requirements during the next century and beyond.
Progress in Nuclear Electricity
The generation of nuclear electricity started in India with the commissioning of first atomic power station at Tarapur in April 1969 with installed capacity of 320 mw. Since then a number of atomic power stations were constructed which increased the installed capacity of nuclear electricity from 420 mw in 1970-71 to 2,720 mw in 2002-03 exhibiting about 548 per cent growth during the last 32 year t But the actual generation of nuclear electricity his not kept pace with the installed capacity.
In 1970-71 the total generation of nuclear electricity was 241.7 crore km which increased to 1939 crore km in 2002-03 (showing a percentage growth of 702 during last 32 years). However, there was about 20% decline in electricity generation during 1992-93 and 1993-94 due to shutting down of Narora power station owing to the fire damage. The generation picked up quickly (68%) in the following year (1994-95) but fell down slightly (12%) in 1995- 96 and regained in subsequent year.
Eight heavy water plants are operational at Nangal (1961, Punjab), Vadodara (1980, Gujarat). Tuticorin (1978, Tamil Nadu), Kota (1985, Rajasthan), Talcher (1985. Orissa), Thai (1987. Maharashtra), Hazira( 1991, Gujarat), and Manuguru (1991, Andhra Pradesh). These plants produce heavy water which is used as moderator and coolant in PHWRs. The country is not only self sufficient in respect of heavy water but recently 100 tones of it has been exported to the Republic of Korea.
The DAE has four major research centers, namely BARC at Trombay (Mumbai). IGCAR .at Kalpakkam (Tamil Nadu), CAT at Indore (M.P.), and VECC at Kolkata. Besides, there are high altitude research laboratory at Gulmarg. Nuclear research laboratory at Srinagar, and seismic station at Gauri Bidnoor (Karnataka). These centers spear head research in atomic energy, fast breeder technology, lasers, accelerators, crygenics, superconductivity, and ultra-high vacuum etc.