DAE in a fix over high cost of nuclear power

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 26 2013, 10:12am hrs
As the generation cost for nuclear power plants to be set up with the help of French and American companies is turning out to be on the higher side, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is in a fix. While it is involved in hard negotiations with companies, sources say that if the cost per unit turns out to be too high, it may not even pursue the project with collaborators. The cost estimated by the DAE for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant (JNPP) in Maharashtra is around R9 per unit while the cost for the Mithi Virdhi nuclear power project is around R12 per unit.

Currently, the DAE is in negotiations with French company Areva to build six EPR reactors of 1,650 MW each at Jaitapur. Sources pointed out that initial estimates stated the cost to be around R27-30 crore per megawatt and the cost per unit to be around R9 per unit in 2021. Speaking to reporters in Mumbai last month, RK Sinha, DAE secretary, had said a competitive per unit tariff of R6.50 has been estimated in the year of completion of the Jaitapur project in 2020-21.

In the case of the Mithi Virdhi project, where American company Westinghouse Electric is providing AP-1000 reactors, the cost per megawatt is coming to around R40 crore while the cost per unit is around R12.

Although this project is yet to reach the advanced negotiations stage, the DAE has already signed an Early Works Agreement with Westinghouse Electric.

The DAE is sceptical about the proposal due to its high cost. It states that the cost per unit from the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) unit 1 and 2 is R3.50-4 per unit. "If we take inflation into consideration, even then the cost is very high. We are also answerable to people. Plus, there is a lot of opposition to nuclear projects where we have foreign collaborators. If nothing works out, then we will, perhaps, have to back out because of the high electricity generation cost from the project," a senior DAE official said.