NEW DELHI: The Union Government is planning to introduce production-linked incentives (PLI) for small modular reactors (SMRs) as part of its strategy to augment the contribution of nuclear energy to the country’s energy mix.
This initiative is being developed through collaboration between the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and inputs from NITI Aayog, according to sources familiar with the matter. Small modular reactors (SMRs) differ from conventional nuclear reactors in that they can be constructed in factories rather than on-site, streamlining the production process.
SMRs are characterised by a power capacity of up to 300 megawatts per unit, representing roughly one-third of the capacity of traditional nuclear reactors. Their flexibility and mobility make them suitable for deployment in locations where larger facilities are impractical.
One of the sources emphasised the importance of implementing a scheme similar to those supporting other clean energy technologies in India, which have received initial government support to attract private investments and facilitate the expansion of production to reduce costs.
The PLI scheme, introduced in 2020, allows the government to offer financial incentives based on a percentage of the sales value. To date, the government has launched PLI schemes for 14 sectors, with a total allocation of 1.97 trillion.
In a similar vein, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has introduced the Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (Sight) programmme, designed to incentivise the production of green hydrogen and electrolysers with a budget exceeding17,000 crore.
The government aims to have a domestically produced prototype ready before formally unveiling the SMR-focused scheme. The first step involves creating a prototype, and then the focus will shift to commercial-scale production. Private enterprises have expressed a keen interest in manufacturing SMRs in India.
Additionally, the government is diligently working on the regulatory aspects to ensure the safety and security of SMRs for utilization and adoption.
India is actively engaged in bilateral discussions with France, Russia, South Korea, and the United States to acquire the necessary technologies and investments for SMRs. This signifies the government’s commitment to enhancing the role of nuclear energy as a clean and sustainable energy source in the country’s energy portfolio.