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India Weighs Lifting Ban On Foreign Investment In Nuclear Power

In a bid to boost clean energy generation, India is weighing lifting a ban on foreign investment in its nuclear energy industry, Reuters reported on Friday, quoting government sources.

India has an Atomic Energy Act in place since 1962, under which the government develops, builds, and runs nuclear power stations. Indian private companies are allowed to take part in nuclear energy development as “junior partners” to government entities.

“The 1962 Atomic Energy Act prohibits private control of nuclear power generation, and 2016 amendments allowing public sector joint ventures do not extend to private sector companies, nor allow direct foreign investment in nuclear power, apart from the supply chain,” the World Nuclear Association says.

Now a panel set up by the government is recommending overturning the ban on foreign investment and giving a greater role to local private companies, according to Reuters’ sources. 

Nuclear power generation currently accounts for around 3% of India’s generation mix, which is dominated by coal at 72%, according to the World Nuclear Association.  

Last month, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Science and Technology, said that India would have 9% of its electricity coming from nuclear power generation by 2047, with nuclear generation capacity set to triple by 2031.

India’s Department of Atomic Energy aims to have 20 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power capacity by 2030, which would make the country the world’s third-largest producer of electricity from nuclear energy after the United States and France, Indian media quoted the minister as saying.  

Boosting nuclear power capacity and generation could help India reach a 2070 net-zero target, the minister added.

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Yet, India will see its power generation from coal increase in the coming year as authorities plan to have coal-fired units maximize electricity production from imported coal to meet rising demand. India’s coal minister said at the end of 2022 that the country has no intention of ditching coal from its energy mix any time soon. Addressing a parliamentary committee, Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi said that coal would continue to play an important role in India until at least 2040, referring to the fuel as an affordable energy source for which demand has yet to peak in India.    

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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