Dr Chidambaram, the chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, has announced the construction of the first atomic reactors to be built in India from an Indian design. The two 500 MWe pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) will be constructed at Tarapur where two BWRs are operating (Pixtured below). India operates eight 220 MWe PHWRs which, although Indian designed, are based on the Canadian CANDU reactors. India bought Canadian technology until its refusal to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty led to its isolation in nuclear matters. Although India is building four more 220 MWe PHWRs, the 550 model will take centre stage.

India’s stated aim is to have 20 000 MWe nuclear generating capacity by 2020, and to have sufficient quantities of plutonium to develop a fast-breeder programme.