All the tests have been completed on the first unit of the nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, and official permission is expected soon.
The first unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant will start commercial operations in the month of September, sources close to the matter told RIR.
The operator of the Russian-built plant, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has completed all tests on the plant and is expecting a green light from the India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to start commercial operations, the sources said.
The plant’s second unit is expected to attain criticality by the second week of November, according to the sources. It is still unclear when work will begin on the third and fourth units of the project. India and Russia reached a framework agreement on the construction of the units earlier this year, after almost 2 years of tough negotiations over their inclusion in India’s civil nuclear liability law.
The Kudankulam units comprise of 1,000 MW reactors of the VVER-1000 model being constructed by the NPCIL and Russia’s Atomstroyexport company, a Rosatom subsidiary.
India signed a contract with the Soviet Union to build the Kudankulam plant in 1988, while the actual construction started only in 1997 due to due to the political and economic upheaval in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Although, the plant has faced foreign-backed protests in safety issues, leading Russian, Indian and international scientific experts have vouched for the safety of the project. The experts have maintained that superior technology and exceptionally high quality equipment used in the reactors at the project made them unique in the global nuclear industry. KNPP is the first pressurized water reactor that belongs to the light water reactor category in India.
In 2012, India and Russia agreed to an ambitious roadmap for deepening their cooperation in civilian nuclear energy and construct together 16 to 18 nuclear energy plants in India of 1000 MW each. Given India’s ongoing problems with land acquisition, little progress has been made in choosing a site for the future nuclear plants. The Indian Government had originally planned to build 19 nuclear power reactors with an aggregate capacity of 17,400 MW by 2017. Russia is the only nuclear partner that is giving India the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.