India plans to rapidly expand its nuclear power generation as it prepares for a rise in its population and electricity consumption while looking to diversify its energy reserves.
In a recent interview with The Hindu newspaper, B.C. Pathak, chairman of the state nuclear corporation, said the country plans to “commission a new nuclear reactor every year.”
India, currently the third-largest energy consumer in the world, has committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2070, and meeting half of its electricity requirements through renewable energy by 2030.
Currently, nuclear power only accounts for about 3% of its electricity generation. Nineteen reactors are already under construction, following the activation of its first homegrown Kakrapar-3 reactor in Gujarat last year.
India partners with allies to boost nuclear power reserves
India is partnering with France, the U.S., and Russia to install nuclear reactor units and address its power shortages. During French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India this week, Electricite de France and India’s Department of Atomic Energy will likely complete a preliminary agreement to collaborate on small modular nuclear reactors, according to Bloomberg. Last year, U.S. President Joe Biden reaffirmed plans to install six nuclear reactors with Westinghouse Electric Company in southern India, and Russia has also signed an agreement with New Delhi for its Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. But “India must be aware of the security risk from being dependent on one country,” Nikkei Asia reported, pointing at U.S. concerns over India’s growing ties with Moscow.
Coal will remain a key part of India’s power generation
“Whether we like it or not, coal will continue to have a role to play in India” one energy analyst told CNBC, emphasizing that India cannot afford to “shortchange” growth as its population and energy consumption increases. Currently, 75% of India’s electricity power is derived from readily available coal plants. The construction of hydropower power plants have been met with consistent delays and existing grid infrastructure is not yet fully equipped to handle variable sources like solar and wind. The French company EDF’s partnership with India on the proposed Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant has been reaffirmed repeatedly over the last decade, but has been held back by financing and liability issues. “EDF and NPCIL were aware of this from the start, but they swept the issue under the carpet and now find themselves up against a wall,” one official told Le Monde.