India Embraces Small Modular Reactors in its Clean Energy Transition

    As part of its clean energy transition, India is innovating in new technologies such as small modular reactors (SMR), says Science and Technology Minister, Jitendra Singh.

    India is embarking on an ambitious journey to harness the power of small modular reactors (SMR) as part of its clean energy transition, according to Science and Technology Minister, Jitendra Singh. The move showcases India’s commitment to embracing innovative technologies for a more sustainable future.

    The Advent of Small Modular Reactors

    Small Modular Reactors are a novel technology in the nuclear power sector. Unlike conventional nuclear reactors that require on-site construction, SMRs are agile, mobile, and factory-built, providing a compact and flexible design. With a capacity of up to 300 MW, SMRs necessitate a smaller footprint and offer more flexibility in deployment and scaling.

    A recent report by NITI Aayog underlined the global regulatory harmonisation, the need for a robust manufacturing ecosystem, and the mobilisation of both public and private capital as crucial elements for the growth of the SMR industry. In response to these insights, Singh affirmed, “We are already working on it. I think as times come, we have to move with the global world. SMR may become the order of the day. We are open to these new technologies and we are also adapting to them very fast.”

    India’s Evolving Nuclear Power Landscape

    For the first time, the Indian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, approved a proposal to construct 10 nuclear reactors in “fleet mode. The state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which operates nearly all of the country’s atomic power plants, is at the forefront of this initiative.

    In a significant policy shift, the government amended the Atomic Energy Act in 2015, paving the way for joint ventures between NPCIL and other public sector companies for the development of nuclear power projects. “Earlier, they were not partnering with anybody. So, we naturally had constraints on resources, finances. Now, we already have two important partnerships with Indian Oil Corporation and NTPC. We have moved in that direction, though not yet with the private,” Singh commented.

    NPCIL recently inked a supplementary joint venture agreement with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to develop two 700 MW pressurised Heavy Water Reactors at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh and four 700 MW PHWRs at Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan. Joint ventures with Indian Oil Nuclear Energy and Nalco Power Company Limited have also been established for the expansion of the nuclear power sector.

    The Road Ahead for India’s Clean Energy Transition

    India’s current installed nuclear power capacity stands at 6780 MW. The nation plans to add 21 more atomic power generating units, contributing to a total installed capacity of 15,700 MW by 2031. The development of SMRs is a significant step in achieving this target and demonstrates India’s commitment to pioneering advanced technologies in its clean energy transition. As Singh affirms, India is open and adapting fast to these innovative technological solutions, thus positioning itself as a major player in the global sustainable energy arena.

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