India's first 1000 MW nuclear reactor built at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu by the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) in collaboration with Russia is undergoing several commissioning processes after much delay, and it is being currently tested for "Hot Run," just two steps away from "criticality."
While the thermal power plants in the country are struggling to increase the unit size to 800 MW, this achievement is a significant milestone, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) sources said.
The next step will be the loading of actual fuel and according to DAE its clearance has been already received from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). However, the Board maintained that the permission will be given only when the 'Hot Run' tests are successfully completed.
The criticality (final commissioning for power production) is expected before the end of this year, the sources said.
The construction of The VVER-100 type of Russian reactor as part of Kudankulan Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) began in 2002. Although it was progressing ahead of schedule for first few years, it was facing enormous delay in going 'critical' (almost over three years) due to several reasons.
But the observation that several cables were missing to be incorporated by designers in the reactor almost towards completion of the plant 2009-2010) could not be explained which further delayed the commissioning , the sources said.
The designers discovered that several km of power and control cables in the reactor were "missed" after the completion of double containment of the reactor.