India’s atomic power plants operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) now hopes the first 1,000 MW unit at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) will start commercial operations next month.

According to NPCIL, the expected date of commercial operation of the first unit is November 2013 and the unit has achieved 99.76 percent physical progress as in September 2013.

The NPCIL is setting up two 1,000 MW Russian reactors at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here. The total outlay for the project is over Rs.17,000 crore.

KNPP is India’s first pressurised water reactor belonging to the light water reactor category.

The first unit attained criticality, which is the beginning of the fission process, for the first time July 13.

In August, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) gave its nod to KNPP to raise the reactor power levels to 50 percent and synchronisation of the unit with the power grid.

The NPCIL earlier said it would connect the first unit to the grid end-August, generating 400 MW power.

But that did not happen due to two condenser valve problems which seemed to have got stuck.

Sources said the problem of a school of jelly fish choking the sea water intake had been sorted out long back and the current problem is not related to that.

According to sources, sufficient pressure is not being built to run the turbine to generate power.

Interestingly the AERB’s clearance to increase the reactor power levels and synchronisation is valid only till Jan 31, 2014.

Officials of NPCIL were not available for clarifications on the continued delay in generating power from the first unit.

With the power from KNPP getting delayed, a senior official of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation told IANS that the state power utility does not take into account the atomic power unit in its power plans.

The second unit at KNPP is expected to start commercial operations in June next year. The unit has achieved progress of 96 percent as of September.

According to sources the activities at the second unit are inching ahead at snail’s pace as the focus is on the first unit starting commercial operations.

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