Becomes the single-largest power generating nuclear reactor in the country

The first unit at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) reached its full power generation capacity of 1,000 MWe at 1.20 p.m. on Saturday. With this, the 21st nuclear power reactor in the country has become the single-largest power generating unit in the country.

It will, however, start commercial power generation at full capacity only by June-end. The unit went critical on July 13, 2013.

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman R.K. Sinha told The Hindu: “I am really proud of this achievement of our engineers, technicians and officers who have done everything in the book to realise this full power generation at Kudankulam-1. It is a great moment not only for our people [of the Department of Atomic Energy] but also for the country.”

The process of reaching 1,000 MWe was “absolutely smooth and there was no problem whatever,” he said.

KKNPP Site Director R.S. Sundar called the event “a great moment for the scientists, engineers and technicians of the NPCIL.” In his assessment, “all the parameters of the reactor are working satisfactorily and are stable.” Asked when Kudankulam-1 would begin commercial generation, Mr. Sinha said although Kudankulam-1 was generating 1,000 MWe now, it would not do so in “a sustained manner.” After the NPCIL engineers did some tests on the reactor, “the power-level will drop to 85 per cent to 90 per cent” of the 1,000 MWe. Commercial generation would begin by the end of June, he said.

Mr. Sundar explained that following “dynamic tests” on the reactor, power generation will be raised to 90 per cent. Later, following clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, 1,000 MWe would be generated.

N. Nagaich, Executive Director (Corporate Planning and Corporate Communications), NPCIL, said that after the first unit was connected to the southern grid on October 22, 2013, its power level was gradually stepped up after tests and clearances by the AERB. The KKNPP consists of two Russian LW reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 MWe, using enriched uranium as fuel, and light water as coolant and moderator. Russia has agreed to supply enriched uranium fuel for both the reactors for their life time.

Asked when the second unit at Kudankulam would reach criticality, Mr. Sundar said: “We will do hydro tests and then the hot run. We expect the second unit to reach criticality by the end of this year.”

Out of 1,000 MWe to be generated from each reactor, Tamil Nadu’s share will be 462 MWe, Karnataka 221 MWe, Kerala 133 MWe and Puducherry 34 MWe. The unallocated share is 150 MWe.

The price at which the NPCIL will sell power generated at KKNPP to State Electricity Boards had not been finalised, an NPCIL official said. “Our finance group is working it out.”he added. The so-called ‘infirm power’ being generated at Kudankulam since July last year is being sold by NPCIL to State electricity utilities at Re.1.22 a unit.

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