India plans to keep check on electricity tariff for nuclear generating stations by achieving higher economies of scale through use of larger-sized reactors.
Although tariffs for new nuclear plants like Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu are much higher compared to those from older ones, they do not compare unfavourably with the cost of power available from sources like coal and gas-fired plants.
For example, tariff for older units 1 and of the Tarapur atomic power station in Mahrashtra work out to Rs 1.07 a unit. In comparison, tariff for the latest reactors set up at the Kudankulam is Rs 4.10 a unit.
But tariff for new coal and gas-fired plants have also risen sharply in recent years thanks to increase in fixed and variable costs.
Average tariff for new supercritical coal-fired plants is in the range of Rs 4 a unit. If public health and environmental costs of emissions are also factored in, the tariff would further rise.
To rein in upward increase in generation costs of nuclear plants, Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) is going for larger-sized reactors-
NPCIL has upgraded from 220 MW to 540 MW reactors and now it is using 700 MW and 1,000 MW reactors.
“Reducing costs of nuclear power is an ongoing effort. In respect of indigenously designed Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs), efforts include increasing unit size from 220 MW to 540 MW and further to 700 MW to gain from economies of scale, standardisation, improvement in design and efficiency and optimisation of gestation period,” Jitender Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, told parliament recently.
“In respect of projects to be set up with foreign cooperation, the measures include adopting appropriate business models to arrive at competitive unit cost,” Singh added.
Following 2007 nuclear deal with the US, which led to removal of decades-old sanctions on the country, India has envisaged ambitious capacity addition plans. The government is focusing o increasing local content to bring down project costs and keep tariff affordable.