Plant Operation

India / First Indigenous 700-MW PHWR Begins Commercial Operation At Kakrapar

By David Dalton
5 July 2023

New Delhi has ambitious plans for 10 more units

First Indigenous 700-MW PHWR Begins Commercial Operation At Kakrapar
File photo of construction at Kakrapar-3 and -4 in India. Courtesy DAE.

The Kakrapar-3 nuclear power plant in Gujarat state, western India, has begun commercial operation, press reports said.

According to reports citing a “senior official” at the power plant, Kakrapar-3 was declared in commercial operation on 30 June at 10:00 local time and was operating at 90% power.

Kakrapar-3 is the country’s first indigenous 700 MW (gross) pressurised heavy water reactor unit (PHWR).

The plant, owned and operated by state nuclear company Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd, was connected to the grid in January 2021. Construction began in 2010.

Commercial operation was delayed partly because of modifications and improvements that were needed based on commissioning feedback.

During commissioning, following synchronisation with the grid, elevated temperatures were seen in certain areas of the reactor building, an official told parliament. The issue was addressed by carrying out “requisite modifications and improvements”.

There are two older PHWRs in commercial operation at Kakrapar. Both units, Kakrapar-1 and -2 are 202-MW plants that began operation in the 1990s.

The indigenous 700-MW PHWR was designed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre near Mumbai from earlier Candu 220 MW and 540 MW designs from Canada.

India, which relies on coal for about 48% of its energy generation, has 19 nuclear power plants in commercial operation and eight under construction – one PHWR at Kakrapar-4, four Russia supplied pressurised water reactors at Kudankulam, two PHWRs at Rajasthan and a prototype fast breeder reactor at the Madras nuclear site. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the reactor fleet provides about 3.1% of the country’s electricity generation.

In December the government confirmed plans to build at least 10 more nuclear power plants to increase the production of clean energy.

The 10 plants are Kaiga-5 and Kaiga-6 in Karnataka state, Mahi Banswara 1-4 in Rajasthan state Gor,akhpur-3 and -4 in Haryana state, and Chutka-1 and -2 in Madhya Pradesh state.

The government has already said nuclear capacity is expected to reach 22,480 MW by 2031, up from today’s figure of about 6,290 MW (net). The government did not say if its projected 22,480 MW figure was net or gross, but either way it would represent a significant threefold increase.

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