Chennai, Jan 17: India’s atomic energy regulator will soon decide on allowing the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to increase power generation at its first unit in Kudankulam, said a top official.
“Next week an advisory committee would meet on permitting NPCIL to increase the power generation at the first unit at Kudankulam up to 75 percent level,” S.S. Bajaj, chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) told IANS over phone from Mumbai Friday.
He said the NPCIL has submitted various test reports and they are being studied in detail.
“The unit also tested its back-up systems by shutting off its external power sources early this year,” Bajaj said.
The NPCIL is setting up two 1,000 MW Russian reactors at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, 650 km from here. The total outlay for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) is over Rs.17,000 crore.
KNPP is India’s first pressurised water reactor belonging to the light water reactor category.
The first unit July 2013 attained criticality, which is the beginning of the fission process.
In August 2013 AERB permitted NPCIL to operate the reactor up to 50 percent level.
The unit is currently generating around 425 MW and synchronised with the southern grid.
As the first unit at KNPP is yet to be declared as commercially operational, the power generated is termed as infirm power and supplied to the home state-Tamil Nadu – at low rates.
“Currently the power is supplied to Tamil Nadu power utility at just over Re.1 per unit,” said a source not wanting to be identified.
Only when the unit is declared as commercially operational NPCIL can charge higher rate. The NPCIL is expected to realise a commercial tariff of around Rs.2.60 per unit.
“Now the Tamil Nadu state is enjoying the benefits of cheap Kudankulam power. Once the unit is declared commercially operational then it would start supplying power to other southern states as well,” the source said.
A senior NPCIL official in Mumbai told IANS: “Our focus now is on increasing the reactor’s power levels to 75 percent and stabilise the operations. The focus is currently on technical aspects alone though the commercial aspect is also important.”
The NPCIL in its website has declared that the first unit at KNPP would become commercially operational next month.