Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
|Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant|
|Construction began||31 March 2002|
|Commission date||22 October 2013|
₹17,270 crore (US$2.51 billion), units 1 & 2|
₹39,747 crore (US$5.78 billion), units 3 & 4
|Owner(s)||Nuclear Power Corporation of India|
|Operator(s)||Nuclear Power Corporation of India|
|Nuclear power station|
|Cooling source||Laccadive Sea|
|Units operational||2 × 917 MW|
|Units under const.||2 × 917 MW|
|Units planned||2 × 917 MW|
|Nameplate capacity||2000 MW|
|Annual net output||7500 GW·h (planned)|
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (or Koodankulam NPP or KKNPP) is the single largest nuclear power station in India, situated in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Construction on the plant began on 31 March 2002, but faced several delays due to opposition from local fishermen. KKNPP is scheduled to have six VVER-1000 reactors built in collaboration with Atomstroyexport, the Russian state company and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), with an installed capacity of 6,000 MW of electricity.
Unit 1 was synchronised with the southern power grid on 22 October 2013 and since then, has been generating electricity at its warranted limit of 1,000 MW. The original cost of the two units was ₹ 13,171 crore, but it was later revised to ₹ 17,270 crore ($2.6 billion). Russia advanced a credit of ₹ 6,416 crore ($0.97 billion) for both the units. Unit 2 attained criticality on 10 July 2016 and was synchronised with the electricity grid on 29 August.
The ground-breaking ceremony for construction of units 3 & 4 was performed on 17 February 2016. Due to operators and suppliers requirement to insure the next two units at ₹39,747 crore (US$5.78 billion), the cost of units 3 & 4 amounted to twice the cost of units 1 & 2.
An Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on the project was signed on 20 November 1988 by the Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi and the Soviet head of state, Mikhail Gorbachev, for the construction of two reactors. The project remained in limbo for a decade due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. There were also objections from the United States, on the grounds that the agreement did not meet the 1992 terms of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). M R Srinivasan, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman from 1987 to 1990, called the project "a non-starter". However, the project was revived on 21 June 1998.
Construction began on 31 March 2002, with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) predicting that the first unit would be operational in March 2007, instead of the original target of December 2007.
A small port became operational in Kudankulam on 14 January 2004. This port was established to receive barges carrying over-sized light water reactor equipment from ships anchored at a distance of 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi). Until 2004, materials had to be brought in via road from the port of Thoothukudi, risking damage during transportation. In 2008, negotiations on building four additional reactors at the site began. Though the capacity of these reactors has not been declared, it was expected that the capacity of each reactor will be 1,200 MW (1.2 GW). The new reactors would bring the total capacity of the power plant to 6,800 MW (6.8 GW).
Commissioning of Unit 1
The first reactor of the plant attained criticality on 13 July 2013 at 11:05 pm.
KKNPP was first synchronised to grid at 2:45 am on 22 October 2013. Power generation from first nuclear reactor started on the same day. Unit 1 was operating at 73% capacity (680 MW) by April 2014. Unit 1 attained its maximum capacity of 1,000 MW of electricity at 1:20 pm on 7 June 2014 and started commercial operation from 31 December 2014. Till April 2015, KNPP-1 generated 2,783 GW·h of electricity at 97% capacity factor.
Commissioning of Unit 2
Unit 2 achieved first criticality on 10 July 2016. Unit 2 is the second 1,000 MW unit to go critical in India. It was grid-connected in August. Commercial operation started on 15 October 2016.
Construction of Units 3 and 4
The ground-breaking ceremony for construction of units 3 & 4 was performed on 17 February 2016. Construction was expected to begin in early 2017. In fact, construction of Unit #3 started on June 29, 2017.
Design and specification
The reactors are pressurised water reactor of Russian design, model VVER-1000/V-412 referred also as AES-92. Thermal capacity is 3,000 MW, gross electrical capacity is 1,000 MW with a net capacity of 917 MW. Construction is by NPCIL and Atomstroyexport. When completed the plant will become the largest nuclear power generation complex in India producing a cumulative 2 GW of electric power. Both units are water-cooled, water-moderated power reactors.
Reactor 1 was to begin supplying power to the Central Grid by end of August 2013.
The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) board members have approved signing of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) for sourcing electricity from the Kudankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP).
Unit 1 was shut down in June 2015 for refuelling and annual maintenance. On 21 January 2016 the reactor restarted and was connected to grid on 30 January 2016.
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Site Director D.S. Choudhary stated on 26 January 2018 that units 1 and 2 of the nuclear plant had generated a combined total of 22,800 million units since they began functioning.
In 2011, thousands from the vicinity of the plant protested against it, fearing a nuclear disaster, in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster According to the protesters, evacuation of people in the event of a nuclear disaster would be impossible. According to S P Udayakumar, of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, "the nuclear plant is unsafe". However, in 2012, the chief of India's nuclear energy programme, Dr Srikumar Banerjee, called the plant "one of the safest" in the world. In December 2012, The Hindu reported that hundreds of villagers in the region were largely ignorant of the risks and benefits of the plant.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in 2011 with the Supreme Court asking for nuclear power development to be delayed until safety concerns were independently assessed. In May 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the plant, stating that the nuclear power plant was in the larger public interest.
In March 2012, nearly 200 anti-nuclear protesters were detained for a few hours by the police. The protesters were set to join protests objecting resumption of work of one of two 1 GW reactors, a day after the local government restarted work on the project.
On, 24 February 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed foreign NGOs for protests at the power plant. News agencies reported that three NGOs had diverted donations earmarked for religious and social causes to the protests, in violation of foreign exchange regulations.
There are allegations from various agencies throughout India and officials from Home Ministry that several Christian organisations and Christian NGOs are behind the protest against KKNPP. The Church of South India, The Catholic Bishops Conference of India. and the National Council of Churches openly oppose the KKNPP. It is also implicitly recognizable that officials in the Catholic Church of these regions too spread rumours through anti-nuclear videos from church premises and through Missionary Schools. The prime motives for opposing the Nuclear Reactor were allegedly multi-faceted. One of the allegations was that the protest was meant to damage the Russian civil nuclear credibility and to make it impossible for Russia to recover costs of construction, and thereby, artificially creating a state of uncertainty for future foreign investments in India.. One of the Anti Nuke protesters UdayaKumar was caught in a sting video asking for funds to be diverted and routed through the church
Response from officials
Former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India Srinivasan said, "The Fukushima plant was built on a beach-front, but the Kudankulam was constructed on a solid terrain and that too keeping all the safety aspects in mind. Also, we are not in a tsunami prone area. The plants in Kudankulam have a double containment system which can withstand high pressure. At least ₹14,000 crore has been spent. If we don't operate the plant immediately, it will affect the economic stability of our country".
A centre panel constituted by the Government of India, which did a survey of the safety features in the plant, vouched for the safety of the Kudankulam reactors. Dr Muthunayagam, who headed the panel, said that the protesters asked for some documents which are not related to the safety of the reactor. Nuclear scientist and principal scientific adviser to the federal Government of India Rajagopala Chidambaram has said "We have learnt lessons from the Fukushima nuclear accident, particularly on the post-shut-down cooling system", and also added Fukushima nuclear accident should not deter or inhibit India from pursuing a safe civil nuclear programme.
The Tamil Nadu state government formed a four-member expert panel which submitted a report to the government after inspecting the safety features of the plant. The Tamil Nadu government in the wake of the acute power shortages in the state has ordered in favour of the commissioning of the plant.
Allocation of power
Government of India announced the power allocation from the two units of the reactor on 29 August 2013.
|Tamil Nadu||925 MW|
|Andhra Pradesh||300 MW|
Tamil Nadu may get another 100 MW over its allocation.
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