Kakrapar 3 to begin commercial operation this year, minister says

21 July 2022

Unit 3 of the Kakrapar nuclear power plant in India's Gujarat state is expected to enter commercial operation by December 2022, atomic energy minister Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to a question in the Indian Parliament's lower house, the Lok Sabha. The reactor is the country's first indigenously-designed 700 MWe pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR).

Kakrapar units 3 and 4 (Image: NPCIL)

In April 2007, the Indian government approved plans for the first four of eight planned 700 MWe PHWR units: Kakrapar units 3 and 4 and Rajasthan units 7 and 8, to be built by Hindustan Construction using indigenous technology. In mid-2009, construction approval was confirmed, and late in 2009 the finance for them was approved.

Site works at Kakrapar were completed by August 2010. First concrete for Kakrapar 3 and 4 was in November 2010 and March 2011, respectively, after Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) approval. The AERB approved Rajasthan 7 and 8 in August 2010, and site works then began. First concrete for those units was in July 2011. Construction had been expected to take 66 months.

Loading of fuel into the core of Kakrapar 3 was completed in March 2020 and it achieved first criticality (a sustained chain reaction) in July that year. The unit was synchronised with the electricity grid on 10 January 2021.

Singh said: "In unit 3, modifications/improvements required based on commissioning feedback have been carried out and their validation is also completed by hot run. The unit is now being readied for startup and progressive power raise to full power in line with the regulatory clearances.

"During the unit commissioning, following synchronisation with the grid, elevated temperatures were observed in certain areas of the reactor building. These have since been addressed by carrying out requisite modifications and improvements."

He added, "The unit is expected to commence commercial operation by December 2022, after obtaining stage-wise regulatory clearances."

Kakrapar unit 4 is now almost 94% complete, Singh noted, while Rajasthan units 7 and 8 are 95% and 80.8% complete, respectively.

India plans to put 21 new nuclear power reactors - including ten indigenously designed PHWRs - with a combined generating capacity of 15,700 MWe into operation by 2031, the Department of Atomic Energy announced in January 2019.

Of the other 700 MW PHWRs planned - Kaiga units 5 and 6, Gorakhpur units 3 and 4, Mahi Banswara units 1 to 4 and Chutka units 1 and 2 - "pre-project activities at sites and procurement of long-delivery equipment have been undertaken," Singh said. He added that excavation has also commenced for Kaiga 5 and 6, while at Gorakhpur buildings and structures are under construction.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News