The $3-billion Russia-India joint project of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Tamil Nadu will be unveiled soon, coinciding with the annual summit of the two countries.
The first unit, at the phase of guarantee operation, is expected to be completed at the end of this year by Russian civilian nuclear power corporation Rosatom’s engineering division. The second power unit is at the phase of the second equipment inspection, to be followed by fresh fuel loading and power start-up itself with connection to the Indian grid.
Despite the global economic crisis, the Russian nuclear industry is this year celebrating its 70th anniversary. Crediting the success to Rosatom’s engineering division, experts point out that after the first unit built by Russia in post-Soviet era, countries, including India, China, Iran, Hungary, and Belarus, are seeking new technologies and designs of Generation III+ for construction of NPP. All these countries are actively cooperating with the IAEA which carries out safety analysis and assessment of NPPs under construction and in operation.
Construction of Kudankulam NPP is based on an advanced Russian design VVER-1000 of Generation III+, which fully meets the requirements of current regulatory and technical documents of the Russian Federation, IAEA and is certified for conformity with the requirements of European operating countries (EUR) club, applied for NPPs built after 2000. Interestingly, the prototype of Kudankulam NPP design was chosen by Iran for the second stage of construction of the Bushehr NPP.
Principal design feature is implementation and systems based on “passive’ principles in addition to traditional active safety systems. According to a common criteria “general probability of severe core damage”, together bring the project under implementation as close as possible to parameters of Generation IV projects in terms of nuclear safety.
Experts, who have been following the construction of the Kudankulam NPP, told FE, “Given that the technology of light-water VVER-1000 reactor construction was being implemented in India for the first time, a little more time was needed to put the units in operation than was planned by an initial mobilization schedule. Such course of events is quite understandable as initially the timeframe of NPP construction was established top-bottom similarly to the one of generic design in Russia.”
“However, specifics of working in India changed the timeframe to some extent, but the budget of NPP construction remained unchanged and, as a result, the NPP of Russian design currently operating in India is rather competitive in terms of kilowatt/hour cost of power supply generated,” they added.
Explaining the process, they said, “Unit transfer to commercial operation was preceded by all necessary activities related to equipment and system pre-commissioning operations which proved the design criteria of their operation.
In strict compliance with Codes and Standards in Indian nuclear power, all summary reports on pre-commissioning activities were submitted to nuclear power regulatory authority – AERB which issued permits for all subsequent activities in several stages.”
In December 2014, guarantee performance tests were carried out at the first unit in compliance with the requirements of integrated test program and by the way, they showed that actual generation of unit power was reached at the level of 1016 MW against 995 MW guaranteed by the design.