Introduction- Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is the single largest nuclear power station in India, situated in Kudankulam 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 connected to 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 (US$2.6 billion). Russia advanced a credit of ₹6,416 crore (US$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.
In 2015, NPCIL announced a price of ₹ 4.29/kW·h (6.4 ¢/kW·h) for energy delivered from KKNPP.
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$5.75 billion), the cost of units 3 & 4 amounted to twice the cost of units 1 & 2.
Construction began on 31 March 2002, with NPCIL predicting that the first unit would be operational in March 2007, instead of the original target of December 2007. 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).
The first reactor of the plant attained criticality on 13 July 2013 at 11:05 pm. KKNPP Unit 1 was first connected 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. 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. Till 26 January 2019, KNPP-1,2 have generated 30,180 million units electricity since its inception.
The ground-breaking ceremony for construction of units 3 & 4 was performed on 17 February 2016. Construction of Unit 3 started on June 29, 2017.
Localization of KKNPP
India and Russia on 5 October 2018, inked an Action Plan for expanding civil nuclear partnership comprising second site for Russian nuclear reactors in India. The Action Plan for Prioritization and Implementation of Cooperation Areas in the Nuclear Field identified jointly by Russia and India was signed by Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexey Likhachev and the Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy and Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Kamlesh Vyas. The two countries intent to develop a project of six nuclear power units of Russian design at a new site in India, further enhance cooperation in the third countries and bring in new perspective nuclear technologies together with joint construction of nuclear power plants. According to the document, for the new nuclear project in India Russia will offer the evolutionary VVER generation “3+” technical solutions and will increase the level of Indian industry’s involvement and localization. This is state of art nuclear reactor technology in the world. “We are satisfied with our strategic cooperation with India, where the Russian designed nuclear power units are operating and being constructed at Kudankulam site. We expect to start implementation in the near future serial construction of new units at a second site in India. This will significantly increase level of equipment localization within framework of the “Make in India” policy, as well as optimize timing and cost of the project execution. Moreover, India is our trusted partner, with whom we are already implementing projects in the third countries, and we plan to enhance this cooperation,” Likhachev said.
The high cost of imported reactors can be offset against soft credit terms. The credit, however, is tied to procurement from the country concerned. This in turn limits the Indian scope of work. The government has to optimise between soft credit and indigenisation if Indian companies are expected to absorb LWR technology. More importantly, local manufacture would also bring down costs and tariff and can be in line with the Make in India programme.
The government should encourage formation of industry-to-industry joint venture companies with prime suppliers of the country supplying reactors such as France, 47 Russia, US or Japan, so that investments and skill transfers will come from outside the country for localising equipment manufacture. Further, if a foreign supplier wants to produce equipment in the scope of a foreign reactor supplier with the help of a local supplier for Indian reactors, it should be allowed and encouraged so that Indian suppliers learn and gain the required experience and be ready to supply the same item as localised supply in due course.
The success of the localisation programme will help harmonise imported and indigenous stream and better integration of Indian companies in the international supply chain.
Indian vendors need to expand capacity to cater to the larger domestic programme and also benefit from localisation of the imported programme.
Opportunities in KKNPP
The last few years have been fruitful in terms of identifying new areas for cooperation between Indian companies and ROSATOM’s enterprise. For example, the United Innovation Corporation and Hindustan Agro declared their intent to develop a network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centres. Radiation technologies are known for destroying harmful microorganisms, bacteria and viruses in foods, and extending the shelf life of different products.
Kudankulam NPP is one of the safest in the world with all post-Fukushima safety requirements being implemented and functioning successfully. Alexey Pimenov, former Chief executive of Rosatom, South Asia, said in an interview in 2017
When Alexey was asked whether Russia and India also had the cooperation in high-tech and innovation spheres, he said “Yes, of course. For example, Isotop, a subsidiary of ROSATOM, supplied Cm-244 emission sources to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It will be used for calibrating the chemical composition of moonrocks and soil during Chadrayan-2, the second lunar mission. Moreover, we have achieved success in developing and producing composite materials. UMATEX Group, another subsidiary of Rosatom, signed an agreement with Indian companies on localizing the production of carbon materials in India. This will allow us to cut costs and export joint Indo-Russian products. The development and production of mass-market products made of composite materials is stipulated as well, including helmets and high-pressure containers. These and other examples demonstrate that our cooperation goes beyond the construction of nuclear power plants.”
“The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant is a symbol of Indo-Russian relations. We hope that our ties will continue to develop successfully and this festival will help young people to get the necessary answers about nuclear energy and inspire them to consider nuclear engineering as a career option,” said Andrey Shevlyakov, CEO of Rosatom South Asia.
Mr. Andrey Shevlyakov will give a speech on Rosatoms’s involvement in Kundakulam success. To get the first-hand information of VVER projects in Kundakulam, please join our 2019 INBP in Mumbai on November 13-14. For more information: