The second unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was connected to the Indian power grid on Monday, signifying a major boost to India’s development and a critical phase for Russia’s move to enter the global stage in nuclear power plant development.
By connecting the second unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) to India's power grid on Monday, India will receive a reliable source of electricity required for the country’s industrial development. This completes work of the first stage of the KNPP, comprising two units. This is also the first and most important phase of Russian technology for building nuclear power plants entering the foreign market.
The Kudankulam NPP is an important component of the strategic partnership between Russia and India. It has been built in the state of Tamil Nadu in the framework of the Russian-Indian agreement of November 20,1988 and the amendments thereto of June 21, 1998. The final transfer of the first KNPP, commissioned by India, took place earlier this month.
The first kilowatt-hours
Unit 2 of the KNPP, a VVER-1000 reactor with an installed capacity of 1000 MW, was connected to the Indian national grid at 11.17 on Monday. It happened one and a half months after the nuclear chain reaction was first launched on the power generating unit.
"Networking of the power generating unit took place in the normal mode. In accordance with the programme, all the stages of the test reactor facility at low power levels were completed, the design parameters of systems and equipment were validated," said Andrei Lebedev, vice-president for projects in the South Asia Group Rosatom ASE. “Further, the power unit will gradually rise, it will be tested for dynamic stability at different levels of the electrical load with a subsequent transfer to 100% load. After they are completed, 72-hour testing at rated power will take place, the results of which will be used by the Indian customer.”
Energу reserve for industry
“The work on the first stage of the nuclear heating plant will enable India to increase its power supply system by 40%. This will create "a huge reserve" for the country’s industrial development,” said Ivan Andrievsky, chairman of the board of directors of "2K" engineering company. Andrievsky said the system now operating in south India, which periodically suffers from a lack of power capacities, will be more stable.
The KNPP provides power not only to the state of Tamil Nadu, where the station is located, but also the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Union Territory of Puducherry.
With the start of commercial operation of the second unit, expected in a few months, the total capacity of nuclear power generation in India will grow to nearly 7000 megawatts.
The Russian stage
For the Russian nuclear industry, commissioning of KNPP has a special significance. It is the first and therefore the most important step begun in the 1990's for promotion of domestic technologies abroad and of construction of nuclear power plants. This phase is now practically complete, thinks Alexander Uvarov, chief editor of the portal AtomInfo.ru.
In the 90’s, the Russian nuclear industry, then going through hard times after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was awarded contracts for construction of five nuclear reactors in other countries; with the first nuclear power plant unit Bushehr in Iran, the first and second Kudankulam NPP units in India, and the first and second Tianwan NPP units in China.
"These were the first five orders, which helped to preserve our nuclear industry, maintain the experience and the competence necessary for its development," said Uvarov.
Units 1 and 2 of the “Tianwan” NPP were commissioned in 2007, the first NPP Unit Bushehr was commissioned in 2013, and the first block of the Kudankulam NPP was commissioned in 2014.
Uvarov said the successful completion of projects for the construction of nuclear power plants and their launch had great reputational value; foreign partners realized they could trust Russian specialists with orders for the construction of nuclear power plants.
This led to what experts are now calling "global expansion of Rosatom". The State Corporation ranked first in the world in the number of simultaneously constructed NPPs abroad. At the end of 2015, the portfolio of projects of the State Corporation for the construction of nuclear power plants abroad was 36 NPP units. Rosatom participated in tenders and negotiations on 23 NPPs.
A general framework agreement (GFA) for construction of the second stage (blocks 3 and 4) of the KNPP was signed in 2014. Russia and India have already begun to expand the plant.
"There is every reason to expect a successful implementation and a project of construction of the second stage, which should begin in the near future," said Uvarov.
Andrievsky said the Russian nuclear industry, which is associated with a large-scale development of India's nuclear programme, "fully justifies the expectation. Officially, the construction (the second stage) will start in April 2017. Orders for the equipment are already partly installed," he said.
Preparations are on to sign the GFA for construction of the KNPP’s third stage (blocks 5 and 6) by Moscow and New Delhi. Cooperation on peaceful use of atomic energy will continue; both countries signed a strategic vision document in December 2014 for serial construction of power units based on Russian technology in India. The document specifies plans to build up to 25 nuclear power plants in India with Russian participation.
"Based on these plans, the two sides intend to have a long-term and fruitful cooperation", - said Andrievsky.