Mumbai, Oct 11 (IANS) Electricity generation from India's nuclear power plants exceeded its target for the first time in nearly half a decade, mainly due to the availability of imported fuel, an official said here Monday.
Between April-September 2010,the total power generation from the country's 19 nuclear reactors in operation was 10,853 million units, against the target of 10,342 million units, set by the Central Electricity Authority, Sudhinder Thakur, executive director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) said.
'With this positive trend, we expected the total nuclear power generation this year - 2010-2011 - to be around 10 percent higher than the target fixed for the current year,' Thakur told IANS.
With these 19 nuclear reactors in operation, the installed capacity of this sector stands at 4,580 MW, or 8.2 percent of 55,093 MW, the total capacity of power generation in the thermal, hydro and nuclear sector in the central sector, he said.
The nuclear power generation for the April-September period is 23 percent higher than 8,816 million units during the same period last year.
'This (increase in power generation) was possible through augmentation of fuel supplies resulting from the international co-operation in nuclear business and imported uranium for some of the pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs), and increased supplies from domestic sources,' Thakur explained.
He said the use of imported fuel enabled restart the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station's unit-2 after en-masse feeder replacement from September 2009, the commencement of commercial operations of units 5 and 6 from February and March this year and operation of units 3 and 4 at full power from May this year.
Besides, the hike in uranium supplies from indigenous sources enabled operation of PHWRs fuelled by domestic uranium at a higher power level, of about 70 percent, and also helped restart the Narora Atomic Power Station's unit 2 after en-masse coolant channel replacement.
Presently, at least four nuclear power plants are ready but not yet started due to fuel shortage, he said, adding that the NPCIL has already made provisions to start commercial operations of Kaiga-4 within the next month or so, Thakur said.
To a question, he said that no nuclear power plant ever remained closed due to fuel shortage, but were operated at low power.
Now, the NPCIL is aiming for a higher target next year 2011-2012 - generating 32,000 million units - or 45 percent higher than the target of 22,000 million units for the current year 2010-2011.