About Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited
A journalist friend asked me about the achievements of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). I shall attempt a brief update on the topic.
I recall that, as if, it was yesterday. In 1987, the Atomic Energy Act 1962 was amended to set up the NPCIL as a government company. The Mission of the Company is ‘To develop nuclear power technology and to produce nuclear power as a safe, environmentally benign and economically viable source of electrical energy to meet the increasing electricity needs of the country’.
An achievement which makes it unique in the world is the development of a team of engineers and scientists dedicated to the nuclear power programme. Over the years, NPCIL built up a sound and rich programme of human source development. The group consists of young and middle aged engineers confident to face challenges. All countries with advanced nuclear technology could not retain trained manpower. Their nuclear programme was stagnant. With possibilities of new build, they had to recruit man power during a short period. There was dearth of manpower. For instance, only a few universities only offer nuclear engineering programme.
The second achievement is in developing expertise in mega project management in its entirety. By systematic analysis NPCIL, could cut down admirably the time from ground breaking to final operation of nuclear power projects. This is vital for the economic viability of nuclear power projects. Longer gestation periods will lead to cost overruns.
NPCIL encouraged many private sector companies to perform as per international benchmarks. When it sought collaboration many rose to the occasion. Several of them set up the right infrastructure to produce systems and components as per stringent specification. They remain in business by constant innovation.
NPCIL presently operates 20 nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 4780 MW. The reactor fleet consists of two Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and eighteen Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) including one 100 MW PHWR at Rajasthan which is owned by DAE, Government of India. Currently it has six reactors under various stages of construction totaling 4800 MW capacity out of which one reactor of 1000 MW capacity at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, is in the final stage of commissioning.
NPCIL’s latest report card highlights several records in the safe operation of nuclear power plants. For instance, ten reactors of the company have run non-stop for more than one year. Among them, the Unit-2 of Tarapur Atomic Power Station has run continuously for 590 days, a notable achievement. So far NPCIL has consistently maintained overall availability factor of reactors above 80% for several years and in the year 2011-12 it was 91%.
NPCIL registered the highest level of credit rating (AAA rating by CRISIL and CARE)
NPCIL is trying to face the new challenges thrown in by the globalization of nuclear power. NPCIL has to review nuclear power reactors of newer designs; they have to prepare the grounds for several megaprojects; participate actively for deciding the costs of reactors imported from different countries. Evaluation how much of indigenization is possible to reduce costs, coordination with the State Governments for land acquisitions, infrastructure developments among others.
NPCIL’s Public awareness programmes registered new heights. This is one area where the needs are limitless!
NPCI has a dedicated R & D group, developing techniques and technologies to address various issues.