Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin (on-line from Moscow as part of a video-conference) on 10 August officially commissioned unit 1 of India’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Projects (KNPP). The VVER-1000 unit is already in service. It was connected to the southern grid on 31 December 2014. The reactors at Kudankulam are being built by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Russia’s Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of state nuclear corporation Rosatom.
India signed a contract with the Soviet Union to build the plant in 1988, but construction started only in 1997 due to the political and economic upheaval in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Construction of the first two units were later halted in September 2011 following protests by villagers around the plant but work resumed in March 2012 after interventions at both centre and state levels.
KNPP's site director R S Sundar said unit 2 will be ready by end of August. The unit achieved criticality on 10 July after regulatory and statutory clearances. This will be followed by various tests, connection to the grid and gradual increase in power in line with the stage-by-stage clearances from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
Modi said Kudankulum 1 was an important addition to the continuing efforts to scale up production of clean energy in India. “I have always deeply valued our friendship with Russia and it is fitting that we jointly dedicate Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant unit 1. This also signals our joint commitment to build pathways of partnership for green growth,” he said.
He said the dedication marked a milestone in India-Russia relations. “In successful completion, it is not only another fine example of the strength of our special and privileged strategic partnership, it is also a celebration of our binding friendship. It is only a start of our cooperation in this field,” he said. He added that five more units would be built at KNPP.
He noted that the 1,000MWe Kudankulam 1 is the largest single electrical power unit in India. “In years ahead, we are determined to pursue an ambitious agenda of nuclear power generation. At Kudankulam alone, five more units of 1,000MWe each are planned. In our journey of cooperation, we plan to build a series of bigger nuclear power plants.”
Putin said cooperation in nuclear energy was “an important part of the privileged strategic partnership between our countries” and has great importance for both countries' development. “This is not just about building a nuclear power plant and putting it into operation, but is a large-scale project to develop a new high-tech nuclear sector in India. This work involves transfer of skills and training of personnel and specialists in this area.”
He said India and Russia had big plans in the nuclear sector. “Work began on the power plant's third and fourth units in February this year. We plan to sign a general framework agreement and loan protocol for the construction of the third stage of the project by the end of this year. I would like to remind you that this project is being carried out using funds provided by the Russian Federation. Of the total project financing, 85% is in the form of a state loan provided by Russia.”