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The Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), a leading power producer in India, is exploring a novel approach to clean energy generation. NLC is in talks with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCL) to establish Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) at its coal mines, according to NLC chairman and managing director M Prasanna Kumar.

SMRs are a relatively new technology, featuring nuclear reactors with significantly lower power output compared to traditional reactors. While conventional reactors boast outputs in the gigawatt (GW) range (1,000-1,500 megawatts electrical or MWe), SMRs operate at a capacity below 300 MWe.

This shift towards smaller, modular reactors presents several potential benefits:

  • Bridging the Gap: SMRs can bridge the gap between large-scale nuclear power plants and renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which are inherently variable in their output.
  • Enhanced Grid Stability: By providing a consistent and reliable source of baseload power, SMRs can contribute to grid stability, ensuring the smooth functioning of the electricity grid even when renewable energy sources fluctuate.
  • Clean Energy Future: As India strives towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, SMRs offer a potential pathway to clean energy generation, complementing the existing energy mix that relies heavily on coal-based thermal power plants and renewable energy sources.

NLC’s exploration of SMR technology signifies a proactive approach towards adopting cleaner and more sustainable energy solutions. While the talks with NPCL are in their initial stages, this development paves the way for further discussions and potential pilot projects that could shape the future of India’s energy landscape.