The country is operating 16 nuclear reactors with a total capacity of around 3,900 megawatt electrical. Seven more with a capacity of 338 Mwe are under construction and likely to commence operations between March 2009 and September 2010.
Speaking to Business Standard after delivering a special address at Stella Mary's College in Chennai, Baldev Raj, scientist and director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, said the current installed nuclear power generation capacity is likely to increase five-fold to 25,000 Mwe by 2050 from the current 3,900 Mwe. The proposed expansion would require over Rs 125,000 crore (Rs 1,250 billion). While initial investments would be made by the government, private investments would beencouraged in the coming years.
Nuclear power accounts for 3 per cent of India's total electricity generation and is estimated to go up to 25 per cent in 2050. About Rs 6 crore (Rs 60 million) is required to produce 1Mwe.
Coal accounts for over 50 per cent of country's commercial energy consumption and about 78per cent of domestic coal production is dedicated to power generation. This dominance of coal in India's energy mix is not likely to change in the next two decades, he said. Around 225,000 tonne of thorium, which is nearly a third of the entire world's thorium is available in India, said Raj. Thorium is a fertile element and needs to be first converted to a fissile material, uranium -233 in a reactor.