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NPCIL Assessing Orissa State’s Potential for N-Power Complex

npcilA site in India’s eastern state of Orissa is under investigation for suitability for a 4000 to 6000 MWe nuclear power complex, according to the local State Government Energy Minister Surya Narayan Patro.

The potential complex at Pati Sonapur in Orissa’s Ganjam district, would be India’s largest by far, providing on its own more than the country’s entire current nuclear capacity, including the new capacity is under construction.

Patro told the State Assembly that Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) had already proposed a drilling program to assess the site’s suitability. In remarks made to reporters, the Minister said the State had taken no decision on the NPCIL proposal, and that the region was a “thickly populated area.”

S. Thakur of NPCIL told a newspaper: “In anticipation of India being able to get international cooperation and access to nuclear technology, we are thinking of setting up large capacity nuclear power plants.” He added that Orissa’s coal reserves had made that resource the most economic for power production, but that access to the international market in uranium would make nuclear power more competitive in the region.

Orissa is a state on India’s east coast, densely populated with over 36 million people and holding a large share of India’s mineral resources. It is a rapidly emerging industrial area, earmarked for Special Economic Zone status. Up to $90 billion of investment in heavy industry is planned, including several extremely large aluminium, steel and petrochemical plants. It was the first Indian state to privatize its electricity transmission and distribution.

The state’s electricity demand is projected at 17.5 TWh for 2007-8, with that to grow by 12.5 percent to 19.7 TWh in 2008-9. In 2008 the Orissa Electricity Regulation Commission expects 18.1 TWh to be generated, with the surplus sold across India’s eastern grid.

To keep up with demand, Patro said independent power producers had signed 13 memoranda of understanding with the state to build generation capacity of 16,000 MWe.