India's prototype breeder reactor is delayed again

On 6 March 2020, India's Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change released a report in which it "hopes that the [Department of Atomic Energy] would be in a position to commission the fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam by the end of 2021." The report also recognized that if this schedule were to be met it would have taken almost two decades for commissioning to take place.

The construction of the reactor, known as Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor or PFBR, began in 2004. It was initially expected to be commissioned in 2010, but that date has been repeatedly delayed - in 2010 until 2012, in 2012 until 2013, in 2014 until March 2015, in 2016 until March 2017, in February 2017 until October 2017, in November 2017 until mid-2018, and in September 2018 until 2019.

Initially, the reasons for the delay had to do with problems with plutonium production and fuel fabrication. However, for the last several years, the commissioning of the reactor has been held back by problems with sodium pumps.

The cost of the project is estimated to be Rs. 68.4 billion (approximately $4 billion at PPP), which is almost twice the original cost of Rs. 34.92 billion.