By G B Vanamali Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, Apr 12 UNI | 4 months ago

The first unit of the multi-crore 1000 mw Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) would commence commercial operations by the middle of next month, KNPP according to Project Director R Sundar.

Talking to a visiting UNI correspondent at the project site yesterday, he said, ''we have sought permission from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to generate 100 per cent power from the first unit.

''The present generation level is up to 75 per cent. We have approached the AERB seeking permission to increase the power generation from 75 to 90 per cent and then to its full capacity of 100 per cent,'' he added.

This phase involved several dynamic and system tests, including primary and secondary system tests, involving checking the pressure control pumps during transient stage.

Stating that the AERB has taken up the review and the clearances were expected by next week, Mr Sundar said once the first unit started generating 100 per cent power, certain tests, spanning 25 days would be carried out, before declaring that the first unit has become commercial.

''A series of tests have to be conducted once the reactor started generating 100 per cent power. The tests will span over 25 days after which we will announce that the first unit has started commercial operations. This will happen around the middle of next month,' he added.

He said the first unit attained criticality in July 2013, which is the beginning of the fission process. In August last year, AERB gave the go ahead to generate power up to 50 percent (500 MW) of the rated capacity. Subsequently, the regulator allowed the unit to generate power up to 75 percent capacity.

Mr Sundar said though the first unit at KNPP is yet to be declared as commercially operational, the power being generated now was termed as infirm power and supplied Tamil Nadu at the rate of Rs 1.22 per unit.

''Once it started commercial production, the tariff per unit will be approximately Rs 3.50,'' he added. Tamil Nadu would get about 56 per cent of power and the rest would be shared between Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

About the second unit, he said it was expected to start commercial operations by December this year and the physical progress of the project is at 97.03 percent as on March 2014.

''We are preparing for hot run tests and loading of dummy fuel rods in the reactor'', he added.

KNPP is the 21st nuclear power reactor in the country and India''s first Pressurised Water Reactor belonging to Light Water Reactor category. KKNPP Units 1 and 2 are VVER-1000 type reactors set up at Kudankulam village in Tirunelveli district with technical cooperation with the Russian Federation.

The state-of-the-art KKNPP reactors incorporate enhanced safety features ensuring the highest level of safety in line with the current international standards. These are Generation III+ reactors incorporating a combination of active safety systems as well as passive safety systems like Passive Heat Removal System (PHRS), Hydrogen Re-combiners, Core Catcher, Hydro Accumulators and Quick Boron Injection System (QBIS).

This combination of multi-layered safety features ensures safety of the plant, public and environment.

The nuclear fuel loading in the reactor of Unit-1 was accomplished in October 2012. The Reactor was loaded with fuel assemblies containing about 80 tonnes of Uranium Oxide. Subsequently, a number of safety tests at the operating temperature and pressure were carried out successfully, ensuring the performance of various equipment as per the design intent.

KKNPP unit-1 will add 1000 MW electricity to the southern grid and increase the contribution from nuclear power in the country to 5780 MW.

(Posted on 12-04-2014)