Kudankulam to start full-load power generation by December

Kolkata, Sep 3 (IANS) The Kudankulam Atomic Power Project in Tamil Nadu, where fuel loading begins next week, is expected to start full-load generation of 1,000 MW from its first unit by December, an Atomic Energy Commission member (AEC) said here Monday.

"The fuel loading will start next week and power generation will start by end of October and is expected to reach its peak probably by December when it will generate 1000 MW," AEC member M.R. Srinivasan told newspersons on the sidelines of a programme here.

Stressing that all safety guidelines have been met, he said the plant ran successfully on dummy fuel, "which we removed in June". "Several more safety tests will be carried out before the the unit attains full capacity."

The Kudankulam project, the first 1,000 MW nuclear plant in India built with Russian cooperation, is also the maiden nuclear reactor in India to be commissioned after the Fukushima disaster in Japan last year.

Since the project's inception, concerns have been raised by environmentalists and locals regarding the safety and nuclear waste that would be generated at the site.

"There is very little waste that will be generated at Kudankulam and they are within acceptable limits," pointed out Srinivasan, a former Atomic Energy Commission chairman.

Though countries like Germany and Switzerland plan to phase out nuclear operations, Srinivasan put in perspective India's need to further nuclear operations.

"We'll find it very difficult to meet India's energy needs fast enough without nuclear power," he remarked.

The atomic scientist said the prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) of 500 MW capacity at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu, which ensures safety by carrying out recycling activities on site, would begin operations next year.

"It will start functioning next year. It is in advanced stages of construction," said Srinivasan.

Speaking on the agenda of thorium based reactors, he made it clear that it cannot be done overnight.

"Thorium is not a fuel by itself. We need plutonium, uranium-235, or uranium-233 for that. But the first ever thorium reactor - the advanced heavy water reactor (AHWR) of 300 MW capacity might start operations by 2017," he divulged.

He said nuclear power was a huge asset in the defence sector.

"We have one indigenous nuclear submarine. The second one has been leased by Russia and a third one is under construction," disclosed Srinivasan