Saturday, October 3, 2009

Indian Reactor Costs, Further Investigations

I recently received a link to an Indian Government PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION
STATUS REPORT covering central Sector projects for the first three months of 2009. This report is part of an ongoing effort by the Indian government to monitor cost and time performances of construction projects. The Report notes seven Indian reactor projects:
1. The Kaiga Power project Units 3 and 4
Both 220 MWe PHWRs
2. The Kudankulam Power Project units 1 and 2
Both are Russian 1000 MWe VVER-1000 light water reactors
At present Russia and India have an agreement to build four more reactors at the Kudankulam site.
3 The Rajasthan Power Project Units 5 and 6
Both 220 MWe PHWRs
4. The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor
1 Unit @ 500 MWe
Four other production units are planned for construction during the next decade.

The reported cost of the two Units of the Kaiga project is Rs.3282 crores, or about $656 Million. (the crores is a unit of 100,000). Thus their capital cost of the Kaiga reactors is $1.49 per watt. The Rajasthan units have an estimated cost of Rs.3072 crores. with a capital cost of $1.40 per watt. Lets review some other recent Indian PHWR costs:
TAPP-3&4 has an approved cost of Rs. 6525 crores, but it is anticipated that the Project would be completed in about Rs.6000 crores. . .,

Or about $1.11 cents per watt. The lower cost can be attributed to economies of scale for the 540 MWe PHWR units. I previously inferred from statements about TAPP costs that the construction cost for 220 MW PHWRs ran about $1.18 per watt. That not appears to be 20 to 30 cents low per watt. it should be noted that the 700 MWe PHWR uses a slightly upgraded variant of the 540 MW PHWR core. If the upgrade is accomplished without any significant cost increases, then the cost of the 700 MWe PHWRs could run as low as $0.85 per watt. I would like to caution that this estimate is not yet supported by data supplied from Indian sources, thus must be considered both tentative and speculative, but this suggests that very careful attention should be paid to future Indian reactor costs.

it would appear then that the cost of mid size indigenous Indian Reactors is quite competitive with that of the Russian reactors now being built in India. The first two VVER-1000 carry an approved cost of Rs.13171 crore, or about $2.6 billion. This gives us an overnight cost of $1.31 per Watt. the Indians may well be motivated to build the higher cost Russian reactors because they bring with them access to Uranium fuel. The indigenous Uranium supply is the Achilles heel of the Indian nuclear industry.

Indian costs compared to Western costs

Indian reactors are built with appropriated funds rather than borrowed funds. The Indian government doers expect a return on its investment, as it should if it intends t0o continue building reactors. Power from Indian reactors currently costs Indian consumers between Rs. 2 and 2.5 per kWh, about 4 to 5 cents per kWh. Thus the price of power produced by Indian reactors is competitive with the process of electricity produced from coal fired power plants.

Thus the Indian nuclear industry, has the potential to be a world beater in the cost of of post carbon electricity. It should be noted that there are potentials to lower the cost of Indian reactors could be extended even further. Large scale reactor construction can utilize factory production of reactor kits, a system being evolved in China. important reactor parts such as pressure tubes and fuel bundles, can be mass produced. And large scale production of parts such as pumps and steam generators can lower costs. Thus the Indian nuclear industry has the potential to build reactors substantially below $1.00 per watt, and possibly substantially below 85 cents per watt. Thus a very real probability exists that by 2050nIndian electricity could cost half of what Chinese electricity costs, and as little as 20% of the cost of electricity in Europe and the United States. Even lower reactor and electrical costs would be possible if India chose to adopt LFTR type reactors, as a move to achieve maximum efficiency from the thorium fuel cycle.

If this analysis is correct, we might find contrary to our present expectations, that India, and not China will energy as the world's most significant economic power by the end of the 21st century.

Invitation: I invite more information on Indian nuclear technology and costs, in order to extend my analysis.


Anonymous said...

These might be useful:
Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) 2008-2009 Annual Report:

Brochure on the AHWR:


Bear in mind Indian government websites are crap :)

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous I understand that the Indian political system and the Indian Government has significant weaknesses, but it also is not without its virtues. I believe that India possess enormous potential despite the obvious flaws of the Indian State, and of Indian society. It is important to not allow a failure of nerves to take hold. Yours is a very dynamic society, and who knows how far that dynamism will carry India during the next century.

Atomic Khan said...

I wonder how well will do solar and wind generated electricity in India to compete against 5cents/kwh nuclear electricity.
Once there is enough nuclear capacity these solar and wind alternatives will most likely suffer a total financial wipe out.


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