Elated over the Nuclear Suppliers' Group waiver, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India is confident that uninterrupted fuel supplies can help double the power production from its atomic plants through greater capacity utilisation.
The state-owned nuclear energy generator, which currently runs 17 reactors in different parts of the country, hopes to produce up to 4,000 MW power without any hiccups once fuel supply becomes regular.
"Current plant load factor of the nuclear units being operated by NPCIL is around 40 to 42 per cent on account of fuel supply mismatch as against 85 to 90 per cent at which they can operate," said Chairman and Managing Director of NPCIL.
The capacity utilisation of country's power plants aggregating 4,120 MW came down from 90 per cent in 2001-02 to 40 to 42 due to lack of fuel, he said. But with the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifting the nuclear trade embargo, India could get off the ground and give a push to the civilian nuclear programme.
The prospects of assured fuel supplies also augured well for the new atomic plants. NPCIL is all set to add over 2,600 MW of power generation to the national grid by 2010 from its five units under construction.
However, before getting the nuclear fuel, Jain said India has to conclude agreements with NSG countries for uninterrupted supplies.
"The agreement with various governments, namely US, France and Russia, being negotiated by the government of India, have to be operationalised," Jain said.
The proposed Civil Nuclear Liability Act would also be required to be enacted by the Parliament as soon as possible.
"As per the present plan, it may take anywhere between 3 and 4 months to negotiate contract and receive uranium supply," the NPCIL chief said.
NPCIL, a public sector undertaking spearheading India's nuclear power programme, has 17 reactors under its wing and five reactors are under construction in various stages.
The NSG waiver will not only facilitate induction of latest civilian nuclear technology to India but the country is set to attract massive global investment worth billions of dollars for generation of nuclear power.
It is expected that the nuclear agreement with the United States may allow India to generate additional 40,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020.