Kudankulam nuclear power plant went commercial on 31-12-2014 with Nuclear Power Corporation Ltd (NPCIL) announcing a price of 4.29 per unit. In effect, power from the plant would be cheaper than power purchased from private thermal plants as well as other plants using oil and gas as fuel. Power from other sources cost between 3.15 per unit (wind energy) to 12 per unit (power generated using gas, diesel and naphtha)
Declaring Kudankulam power commercial also means Tamil Nadu would get the revised quota of 562.5MW and a total of 1,128.5MW from Kudankulam, Kalpakkam and Kaiga nuclear reactors. Karnataka would get 221MW, Kerala 133MW, Andhra Pradesh 50MW and Puducherry 33.50MW from the unit 1. The declaration by NPCIL is the last milestone for the unit 1 of the Kudankulam project
The 1,000MW Russian reactor has cost more than 8,000 crore and generated 335 crore units since October 2013 when it was connected to the national grid.
"The unit 1 has been declared commercial from midnight of December 31. The unit has so far generated 335 crore units and has been operating at 1,000MW (full capacity) since December 7," said site director R S Sundar. "The total cost of setting up two units of the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam has escalated from 13,000 crore to 16,000 crore. But, the cost per unit of power from unit 1 will be less than 5. Had there been no delay in commissioning of the unit, the cost per unit would have been just 2.75," said a NPCIL official.
But, this is not the same for nuclear plants on the anvil in Maharashtra and other places where per unit cost is likely to be around 6.
In the case of Kudankulam, Russia has assured uninterrupted fuel supply to the two units during their lifetime, which is around 35 years. Though Tamil Nadu is getting power from three nuclear sources, it is only from Kudankulam that it is assured of a continuous supply as fuel would not be a problem.
"The Kudankulam reactors are the only ones in the state to be placed under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and there is no problem for importing fuel for these two units. But, units at Kalpakkam near Chennai and Kaiga in Karnataka are not under safeguards and are dependant on fuel mined in India," said an NPCIL official.