India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has granted permission for the first approach to criticality of unit 4 at the Kakrapar NPP in Gujarat based on satisfactory outcome of the requisite safety reviews. Kakrapar 4 is the second unit of the indigenous designed and built 700 MWe pressurised heavy water NPPs being constructed in India. This first step will be followed by a series of identified experiments, as part of its commissioning, AERB said. The first 700 MWe unit, KAPP-3 at the same site achieved first criticality in July 2020 and began operating at full power in August 2023. AERB gave permission for the start of fuel loading at Kakrapar 4 in October.

Indian NPP operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has three operational units at KAPP – two 220 MWe units (KAPP 1&2) and one 700 MWe unit (KAPP 3), which began commercial operations in August. All four units at KAPP are indigenously designed pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs).

India’s reactor fleet comprises two boiling water reactors (BWRs), 19 PHWRs, including one 100 MW PHWR at Rajasthan owned by the Department of Atomic Energy, as well as two Russian-supplied 1000 MWe VVER reactors.

Construction of 700 MWe PHWRs is also underway at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan (RAPS 7&8) and at Gorakhpur in Haryana (GHAVP 1&2). The government has approved construction of 10 more PHWRs in fleet mode at four locations – Gorakhpur, Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan and Kaiga in Karnataka.