MOSCOW, November 10 (Itar-Tass) — The first power unit of India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant is expected to be put into operation by the end of 2011, Russian Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said at the opening of the 5th Russian-Indian Forum on Trade and Investment.
According to him, “the first unit’s putting into operation is scheduled for the end of this year.”
Russia’s Atomstroiexport is engaged in the Kudankulam NPP construction.
Ivanov said that it is planned to put into operation the NPP’s second unit six months after the launch of the first unit. In addition, negotiations on the construction in India of the third and fourth power units of the station are coming to an end.
The agreement on the nuclear power plant construction has been signed back in 1988. By the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the final contract on the NPP construction had not yet been signed. During 10 years after the signing the project remained suspended. The final agreement on the construction of the Kudankulam NPP was signed in 1998.
The Kudankulam project was developed on the basis of serial power units with the V-320 reactor.
Kudankulam nuclear power station is currently under construction in Kudankulam in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Project investment cost to India was estimated to be US$ 3 billion (Rs.13,615 Crores) in a 2001 agreement.
As of November 2011, thousands of protesters and villagers living around the plant are trying to avoid the possible disasters like Fukushima by blocking highways and staging hunger strikes, preventing further construction work, as they believe that the nuclear plant is unsafe. The Peoples Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) are fighting for about 25 years in Kudankulam.
An Inter-Governmental Agreement on the project was signed on November 20, 1988 by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The project remained in limbo for 10 years due to political and economic upheaval in Russia after the post-1991 Soviet break-up, and also due to objections of the United States on the grounds that the agreement does not meet the 1992 terms of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
There are negotiations over the possible addition of a naval base at the site, both safeguarding the project and as a presence in the southern tip of the country. A small port became operational in Kudankulam on January 14, 2004. This port was established to receive barges carrying over sized light water reactor equipment from ships anchored at a distance of 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi). Until 2004 materials had to be brought in via road from the port of Tuticorin, risking damage during transportation.
In 2008 negotiation on building four additional reactors at the site began. Though the capacity of these reactors has not been declared, it is expected that the capacity of each reactor will be 1000 MW or 1 GW. The new reactors would bring the total capacity of the power plant to 9200 MW or 9.2 GW.
In June 2011, Sergei Ryzhov, the chief designer of the light water VVER nuclear reactors used at this Nuclear Power Plant was killed in an airplane accident. The plane belonging to the Rus-Air airlines was flying from Moscow to the Karelian capital Petrozavodsk.
Two 1 GW reactors of the VVER-1000 model are being constructed by the Nuclear Power corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Atomstroiexport. When completed they will become the largest nuclear power generation complex in India producing a cumulative 2 GW of electric power. Both units are water cooled water moderated power reactors. The first was scheduled to start operation in December 2009 and the second one was scheduled for March 2010. Four more reactors are set to be added to this plant under a memorandum of intent signed in 2008. A firm agreement on setting up two more reactors has been postponed pending the ongoing talks on liability issues. Under an inter-government agreement signed in December 2008 Russia is to supply to India four third generation VVER-1200 reactors of 1170 MW.
On the threshold of a regular meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Indian Commission on trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation (November, 2011) and the Russian-Indian summit (December, 2011) the Fifth Russian-Indian Forum on Trade and Investment was opened on 10 November 2011 in Moscow, according to the event’s release. Taking into account the agreements reached during the meeting of the RF Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov and Minister for Trade and Industry of India A. Sharma in St. Petersburg on June 16, 2011, a special attention at the Forum will be focused on cooperation in the sphere of infrastructure (including production/power transmission, roads, ports and airports construction, public transport development, including the underground) and pharmacy. A separate roundtable discussion will be devoted to the development of the partnership in innovations and commercialisation of scientific research and technology.
The Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation is organiser of the Forum.