NPCIL to set up nuclear-powered hydrogen generation plants


Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd (NPCIL), a power sector utility under the Department of Atomic Energy, is setting up small hydrogen generation plants and associated systems with 10 Nm3 per hour capacity at the Rawatbhata and Tarapur sites to gain experience in hydrogen production and related aspects.

Under its hydrogen policy, NPCIL is pursuing clean hydrogen generation both as captive production for its nuclear power plant sites and commercial production as a diversification business model along with the generation of clean and green electricity.

In captive mode, small clean hydrogen-producing units will be established to meet the captive requirement of hydrogen at the nuclear power plant sites. The unit will use electricity sourced from the nuclear power plant itself to replace the sourcing of grey hydrogen from the market. The company said such a setup can be used as a prototype for subsequent implementation of large-size clean hydrogen-producing projects.

NPCIL is also looking at cogeneration mode, which allows NPCIL to generate profit from the sale of hydrogen apart from the sale of power generated.

In cogeneration mode, clean hydrogen is co-generated using the electricity generated by nuclear power plants, which may be rendered excess due to demand and price trends in the electricity market. “This strategy may be needed to deal with technologies like solar/wind and their falling tariffs, as difficulties are being faced in concluding power purchase agreements (PPA) with distribution companies (DISCOM) for electricity generated by new nuclear power plants,” said NPCIL. “There are also pressures on Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) to operate in flexible mode in line with the availability of cheap solar power in the grid. Nuclear power plants in general are not amenable to flexible operation, as frequent variations in power are undesirable for reliable fuel performance and stability of the neutronic equilibrium of the reactor core.”

NPCIL is also looking at setting up dedicated nuclear power plants to generate electricity for the sole purpose of producing clean hydrogen. This model may be thought of for the small-capacity, older nuclear power plants, said NPCIL.

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