The first 1,000-MWe unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, now but one stage away from commission, was on Tuesday synchronised with the southern regional grid. Initially, at 2.45 a.m., the first reactor generated 75MWe and gradually notched up 160 MWe. Subsequently, it was successfully transmitted to the southern grid at Abhishekapatti on the outskirts of Tirunelveli after the KKNNP project authorities got the ‘connecting password’ from Bangalore.
The process was halted at 5.15 a.m. so engineers could study the behaviour of the reactor’s ‘integrated systems’, the turbine and the generator — a routine procedure.
“The power will be further raised to 500 MWe, 750 MWe and 1,000 MWe in stages. At every stage, various tests are conducted and the technical parameters verified. Based on the results of the tests at each stage and with AERB [Atomic Energy Regulatory Board] clearances, subsequent stages are reached,” said a press release issued by Site Director, KKNPP, R.S. Sundar.
“Though the reactor will continue to generate steam, the turbine will not be allowed to function as it has been stopped [to enable engineers] to study its performance during and after synchronisation. The functioning of the valves and the pipelines connected to the turbine is being evaluated. Moreover, the functioning of the generator is also being reviewed. All these tests and readings are being submitted to the AERB online and clearances being obtained then and there. So far, every part of the reactor, turbine and generator has performed extremely well. We are very much satisfied,” Mr. Sundar told The Hindu.
KKNPP sources said the southern grid would get 500 MWe from the first reactor before this weekend.
After being conceived in 1988 through the Rajiv-Gorbachev agreement, which paved the way for the export of two 1,000-MWe VVER (Voda Voda Energo Reactor, or, pressurised light water reactor) by Atomstroyexport, physical work on the project started only on March 31, 2002, with the “first [pouring] of concrete”. Even as the anti-KKNPP agitation gained momentum in neighbouring Idinthakarai, which temporarily impeded the project’s progress, the AERB gave its nod for initial fuel-loading on August 10, 2012, and subsequently granted clearance for the “first approach to criticality” on July 11, 2013.
The first reactor, which attained criticality at 11.50 p.m. on July 13, was expected to attain its full generation capacity by the end of October. However, fine-tuning of the Russian-origin components delayed commencement of power-generation.
Once the KKNPP’s first unit of 1,000-MWe capacity is commissioned, the nuclear power contribution in the country will be raised to 5,780 MWe.