May 05, 2001 14:50 Hrs (IST)
NDIA'S nuclear power sector may be tiny compared to that of many western nations,
but last year the country was the star as it had the largest number of new reactors
starting operations, according to the United Nations' nuclear watchdog.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says out of the six
nuclear power reactors that went operational last year, three were from India.
Brazil, China and Pakistan had one new reactor each.
According to IAEA data, the three Indian reactors -- two in Rajasthan and the third
in the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant complex (in Karnataka) -- brought India's total
operating reactors to 14. They produced about two percent of India's total power
Altogether, IAEA says there were 438 reactors worldwide last year, up from 433
reactors operational in the previous year. One reactor, the third one at the ill-
famed Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine, was shut down last year. Together, these 438
reactors generate about 16 percent of the total global electricity.
Just as it dominates the military nuclear sector, the West dominates the civilian
nuclear power industry as well -- 83 percent of the 438 reactors were in the
industrialized nations. The US had 104 working reactors last year, followed by
France with 59 reactors. Japan comes a close third, with 53 reactors.
But IAEA's year 2000 figures once again prove that the nuclear power industry's
golden years, if any, would be in Asia. "Only in the Middle East, Far East and South
Asia, with a total of 94 reactors at present, are there clear plans for expanding
nuclear power, particularly in China, India, the Republic of Korea and Japan," the
"More than half -- or 19 to be exact -- of the 31 reactors currently under
construction are in Asia."
Asia's growing nuclear power industry has also been noted by the US Department of
Energy (DoE), which said the continent's share of global nuclear power generation
will increase from the present two percent to 17 percent by year 2020 as many new
plants go critical.
China has a very ambitious nuclear program, and is constructing eight new plants to
add to its existing three plants. According to Chinese officials, Beijing will
invest between $60 billion to $100 billion over the next 25 years to construct new
nuclear power plants.
South Korea has four under construction while Japan has three. Iran has two plants
Even though it might be modest in terms of Chinese plans, India also has ambitious
plans for its nuclear sector, increasing the power generation capacity by as much as
eight times over the next two decades.
The National Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) says the country's nuclear
power output would grow from the present 2,500 MW to 20,000 MW by year
2020. Among the new plants that will become operational in this decade are the two,
500 MW units -- units three and four -- at Tarapur Atomic Power Plant in
Maharashtra. The third unit is to start commercial operations in year 2006 while the
fourth unit will go critical in 2005.
Work on the two 1,000 MW units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu is also set to begin in
the coming years after the final project report is completed this year. The two
units will be a joint cooperation project between India and Russia.
The DoE expects India's nuclear sector to increase its share of national electricity
generation from the two percent at present to six percent by year 2020.
India Abroad News Service