India’s three-stage nuclear power programme was formulated by Homi Bhabha to secure the country’s long-term energy independence.
He envisioned the use of uranium and thorium reserves found in the monazite sands of coastal regions of South India.
India’s nuclear programme is about enabling thorium reserves of India to be utilised in meeting the country’s energy requirements.
Thorium is particularly attractive for India, as it has only around 1–2% of the global uranium reserves and 25% of world’s thorium reserves. However, thorium is not economically viable because global uranium prices are much lower
First stage of India’s three stage nuclear program
Natural uranium fuelled pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR) produce electricity while generating plutonium-239 as a by-product.
Fast breeder reactors (FBRs) would use a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel made from plutonium-239, recovered by reprocessing spent fuel from the first stage, and natural uranium
Advanced nuclear power system involves a self-sustaining series of thorium-232-uranium-233 fuelled reactors. This would be a thermal breeder reactor, which in principle can be refueled – after its initial fuel charge – using only naturally occurring thorium
In 2007, after five decades of sustained and generous government financial support, nuclear power’s capacity was just 3,310 MW, less than 3% of India’s total power generation capacity.
Is it still wise to pursue nuclear power?
Is it worth the effort, money and risks?