Thursday, September 10, 2009

Interim Nuclear Solutions: The Indian System

I finally teased out how much it cost the Indians to build small Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors. A March 6, 2005 press release from the Indian Department of Atomic Energy stated:
India’s largest and first 540 MWe nuclear power plant (TAPP-4) achieved criticality today morning. . . . The 2x540 MWe Tarapur Atomic Power Project (TAPP-3&4) is adjacent to TAPS – 1&2, the first nuclear power plant to be set up in India. Tarapur, is about 100 kms north of Mumbai. . . . 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. . .,
6000 6000 crores of Rupees is about $1.2 billion. At about 1.1 GW rated output, the cost of the Indian reactors is a little more than a dollar per watt. Smaller Indian 220 MW PHWR probably cost about $260 million per example. These reactors are build without factory manufacture of parts, so Indian PHWR construction costs are nor as low as they could potentially go.

Indian PHWRs burn natural Uranium and do not produce Nuclear waste. Instead they produce fuel for Indian FBRs. The first 500 MW Prototype Indian FBR is slated to go critical in two years will end up costing the Indians Rs.5,000 crores, or about $1 billion, about two dollars a watt. Prototypes often prove to be more expensive than subsequent units, Several unexpected events added to the Indian construction cost. These included the 2004 tsunami. Recovery from the tsunami increased Indian construction costs. Construction costs for an undersea tunnel increased due to unanticipated soil conditions. Subsequent Indian FBRs are expected to cost about 3000 crores per unit or $600 million, about $1.20 per watt of generating capacity. Even at the $2 per wat cost figure for the prototype, the India fast breeder will cost far less that the 22,000 crores to Rs. 46,000 crores $4.4 billion to $9.2 billion) figure forecast by anti nuclear fanatic Arjun Makhijani.

Critics charge that the Indian fast breeder design is not safe. Eventually in a decade the Indians play to begin manufacturing AHWR to be powered by U-233 produced in Indian FBRs.

Meanwhile the Indians are moving forward with plans to expand nuclear production capacity. The Indians anticipate $10 billion in new reactor orders between now and 2012. Indian businesses are now planning to begin exporting the ssmall 220 MW PHWR. i
f they can sell the PHWR to underdeveloped countries at similar cost to those enjoyed byIndian, the Indians should make quite a lot of money.

The Indian nuclear plan although envisioned as long term, has characteristics of an interim nuclear approach. It uses older nuclear technology, manufactured at low cost, and seeks to couple the older technology with a more advanced class of nuclear breeders. Problems with the Indian plan include safety concerns with the Indian sodium cooled fast breeders, and the cost of reprocessing nuclear fuel;. The Indian system is quite complex and involves the use of three distinct reactor technologies as well as two or three reprocessing technologies.
In contrast, the LFTR holds the promise of accomplishing everything the Indian system does with one simple elegant reactor design. Thus the LFTR would promises even lower costs than the now low costs of the Indian nuclear system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An opinion from a TOD contributor


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