Commercial power generation in the first 1,000 MWe reactor of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) commenced at 12.01 a.m. on 31-12-2014 after the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the proponent of the project, gave green signal for the much-awaited milestone on 30-12-2014 evening.
"Yes... We've received the nod from our high command for commencing the commercial power generation from 12.01 a.m. onwards," said R.S. Sundar, Site Director, KKNPP.
The first 1,000 MWe VVER reactor, built with Russian assistance, attained criticality on July 13, 2013 and power generation was gradually increased amidst mandatory tests stipulated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
After the reactor was synchronized with the southern grid on October 22, 2013, power generation was gradually increased amidst periodic mandatory checks stipulated by the AERB and reached its maximum capacity on June 7 last. At a time when the KKNPP officials were eagerly waiting for the start of commercial power generation by the first reactor, a component in the turbine section got unscrewed and hit the diaphragm to cause serious set back to the schedule.
As the component released at high velocity hit the first and second stage turbine blades and diaphragm, they suffered extensive damage and hence these parts had to be replaced by taking them from the second reactor, which is almost ready for the 'hot run'. Hence, the first unit could not start commercial operations by the earlier specified date of October 22 on account of these unforeseen technical problems. Subsequently, the Commercial Operation Date (COD) had to be postponed.
Against this backdrop, the NPCIL gave its nod for commercial power generation by the first reactor and an official communication in this connection reached KKNPP topbrass around 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Subsequently, the commercial generation started at 12.01 a.m. on Wednesday.
As commercial power generation at KKNPP has started, the Tamil Nadu Government, which will get its share of 462 MWe power as per the agreement signed with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, will have to purchase electricity cascading from KKNPP's reactor at the rate of around Rs. 4 per unit. Prior to the commercial generation, Tamil Nadu was purchasing electricity from KKNPP for just Rs. 1.22.
As per the agreement signed between Tamil Nadu Government and project proponent Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, the power-starved State will get 462 MWe power from KKNPP's first reactor as commercial power generation has started. After the State Government held talks with the Centre, agreement was reached for getting additional 100 MWe power and hence the State will get 562 MWe.
At the same time, 221 MWe to Karnataka, 133 MWe to Kerala and 34 MWe to Puducherry will be allotted and the unallocated power will be 50 MWe.