Sunday, 26 February 2012

Understanding Kudankulam: Technology and Potential

Let us first understand "Power Production Potential" of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
Power Production Potential at Kalpakkam 
Fast Breeder Reactor (operational: 1983, 1992 unit 1, 1994 unit 2 become self sufficient)

Madras Atomic Power Station, located at Kalpakkam has two units, each capable of 220MW. That provides peak power of about 400MW. The reactors became operational in the year 1983.

Madras Atomic Power Station is presently working on testing a 500MW FBR Prototype test project which can be deployed between 2014-2016. This too is to address the major deficit in power production. This capacity will be close to 1GW if the test proves successful as a paired unit.

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
Unit 1 - Feb 10, 2012 (src: FirstPost)
In 1988, a project to build a second-generation Nuclear reactor with technology which was way beyond what Kalpakkam had by combining Russian Nuclear research and research from BHARC began. This is what has transpired into the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

During initial phases in 1988-89, the capacity of the entire Nuclear Power Plant after full installation in multiple stages at peak load was estimated at 9150 MW or 9.15 GW (That is 20 times the load that Kalpakkam's plant handles in comparison.) An agreement was also made to provide top notch VVER Nuclear Reactor design technology to India and operational expertise. This type of reactor had been first made operational in 1975. The servicability of the reactor was demonstrated when the first VVER operational reactor was shutdown for service and increase in life.


The first pair of Reactors in Kudankulam are VVER-1000 (1000MW reactor) which has multiple cooling circuits and has a full lifetime of 35 years. This reactor can be extended after a 35 year usage to an additional usage of 10 years or replaced by a newer version. Kudankulam is the first Indian Nuclear Power Plant to use the VVER class reactor. With a pair of VVER-1000 reactors, Kudankulam will be able to take up to 1.8 GW of peak load. This is Phase-I of the project which can now be commissioned. The start of reactors will happen in two stages, starting unit 1 first, unit 2 next and subsequently all installed units in sequence.

The VVER-1200 and MIR-1200 are immediate successors to the VVER-1000. Consequently Kudankulam will be the VVER-1200 which has a peak load capacity of 1173 MW. The safety standards adhered to are maximized and match the MIR-12000 (Modern International Reactor) which is built in conjunction with Skoda Engineering, Czech.

Kudankulam will have 4 units of VVER-1200 generating power withstanding peak load of 5.8 GW. In conjunction. This is Phase-II of the "Kudankulam" Project.

If Kudankulam is fully operational, this power plant alone will produce 7.6 GW of power after Phase-II is rendered operational. The initiation of Phase-II is dependent upon the success of Phase-I. Under present assumptions all Phase-II should be completed before 2013-2014 and be fully operational and could also include the expansion related to Phase-III. As the reactor complex is already complete, these deployment decision will be made by Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

Phase-III would deploy two addition VVER-1200 reactors with more safety standards surpassing MIR-1200 projections. This would provide a stable capacity of handling a total of 9.8 GW at a total sunk-investment of Rs.14,000 Crores.

Operational costs for cooling and personnel shall be minimal as the reactor cores themselves address several safety issues including coolant poisoning, the ability to withstand earthquakes up to 7 on the Richter scale (which is logarithmic).

The VVER reactors have been in use by Russia and Iran. India has agreements permitting extremely close cooperation in the building and technological development of the new series of VVER reactors, namely the VVER-1200 to MIR-1200 transition,

Based on Technology this will stand as the greatest achievement of India in satisfying its own power requirements in the recent millennium and put Tamil Nadu ahead of all states of India in its capacity to produce and internally provide power to neighbor states.

State of Tamil Nadu - Power Requirements 
[ Reference: Power demand (The Hindu) ]
Presently the state of Tamil Nadu in India requires a peak of 11.6 GW of power.

NTPC who primarily produces power using Coal/Lignite or in some cases Diesel, takes peak load of  2.8 GW in Tamil Nadu.This production is from "Central Stations."

We have independent power generation sources providing 1180MW load capacity. These would include Hydel and Hydel supplementary plants that run on Diesel to keep the power grid fed well.

Wind power installation in Tamil Nadu being the highest in India has a capacity of 6.4 GW. However 300 MW capacity is unused due to distribution anomalies (lack of transformer sites to distribute the power as people refuse to relocate.)
 This leaves the plant 6.1 GW load capable until that issue is resolved. As a result the maximum production is 6 GW. However our maximum production has been close to 4100 MW and minimum 2100 MW due to seasonal and climatic variations. This has not been a reliable source of power and is also insecure and vulnerable in emergency situations.

Power deficit of a minimum of 2 GW and a maximum of 4 GW is incurred depending on conditions. This deficit is handled by purchasing power from neighboring states.

Table Detailing Power Requirement versus Power Produced and Surplus/Deficit Result

All numbers in the following table are in MW (thousands of Watts)

TN needs 9500 11600

Power Source Installed (MW) Load Capacity (MW) Worst-case (MW)
NTPC 2861 2800 400
Wind Power 6400 4100 2000
Other Sources 1200 1180 800
Kalpakkam 440 400 200
(cumulative) 10901 8480 3400
Surplus -699 -3120 -8200
KNPP Phase 1 2000 1980 990
(cumulative) 12901 10460 4390
KNPP Phase 2 4800 4200 2100
(cumulative) 17701 14660 6490
KNPP Phase 3 2000 1980 990
(cumulative) 19701 16640 7480

Surplus / deficit 8101 5040 -4120

(The above table is based on information provided on public websites and press releases by National Ministries concerned.)
  • KNPP with just Unit 1 and Unit 2 operational will leave TN with a surplus of 300MW
  • As you can see, KNPP if completed within the present day will create a surplus of 8101 MW, however future power requirements have to be taken into account.
  • Today, Without KNPP, but Hydel and all other sources working, we must buy a minimum of 3120 MW of power or 8200 MW of power to provide uninterrupted power to the people.
TN's power requirement is 11.6 GW, KNPP with 6 reactors will produce 9.8 GW power capacity. The mathematics is now easy. Power distribution to industrial estates nearby would allow Neyveli to concentrate on more Northen Geographies within the state.

This would make Tamil Nadu a haven for industry which needs power to operate as opposed to the blackouts we have been facing frequently due to multiple issues. It is in the best interest of the central and state governments of India to have Kudankulam operational. Kudankulam is a power gold-mine, the first of its kind Nuclear power complex that will produce power, provide jobs in the vicinity, result in industrialization, provide hospitals for medical care, schooling as the entire local community becomes realigned to power production from the primitive methods of fishing that are being practiced in the area.

People's Protest misled by Udayakumar S P
I would also like to note that "NPCIL", Nuclear Power Corporation of India, chief, Mr. Srinivasan had requested Mr. Abdul Kalam, Past President of India, not to comment on this as he was a missile scientist, not a Nuclear scientist. Neither am I a Nuclear Scientist, but I am quite well qualified with references to show what he has hidden from the people to create such unnecessary unrest.

The protests against commissioning an already installed and built reactor whose construction began in 1997, and was completed in 2007 is by one Mr. Udaya Kumar S P. He returned from the USA after spending twelve (12) years working. He is highly educated in Social sciences and interests himself in serving people. He is not qualified in Nuclear physics and Atomic Energy technology or quantum Physics, Non-Linear Dynamics, Nuclear Reactor Construction Technology, Reactor Coolant Technology or any core technology of the reactor. His opinion, therefore holds as much weight as yours or mine.

His concerns of Nuclear Technology and safety of the reactor emerged suddenly almost six months after Japan's tragic earthquake and Tsunami during which Fukushima Daichi had to be shutdown. He has never published scientific papers on the subject of Nuclear safety thereby contributing peacefully to the safety of Nuclear Reactors of any issue that has either not been addressed or has been overlooked in the installation of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

Safety Concerns
Mass protests were recorded only in October 2011 and November 2011. Prior protests have not been cited by the media. (Reference: Wikipedia Biography of a Living Person: Udaya Kumar S P) Fukushima failed as the failsafe systems underwent multiple failures after two catastrophes - an earthquake, a tsunami. Fukushima Daichi is built on a beach front. Reactors 1-4 alone were shut and are now no-fly-zones. Suffice to say that the incident has been safely contained. 6 reactors in Fukushima

The probability of lightning striking a person is 1 * 10^-5. The probability of an earthquake hitting the lower basin is put at 1 * 10^-11 (which is the same as lightning striking at the same person at the same place twice) if there were subduction induced earthquakes in the sea floor vicinity and frequent tsunamis.

Kudankulam is shelved geographically to be immune to a great extent to such an event. The last earthquake that hit the southern tip of the peninsula where Kudankulam is located has yet to be recorded.

Fukushima Dai-ichi, Fukushima Dai-ini are dual Nuclear Power Plant complexes generating over 16 x 4 GW of power. Of this 6 reactors together producing 6 GW of power were compromised. Coolant radiation level is now safe. There is data available, footage available and enough information explaining it for anyone who would take the time to read. There are two more Nuclear installations to support the above installations. Hence Japan lies unperturbed after such a severe disaster.

India hasn't been able to earn revenue to setup a proper disaster response code (even if there were no nuclear power reactors.) India already adopted and is using Nuclear power safely. To improve our quality of life, we need energy to fuel industry or we would go dark and become nobody. Any foreign power who wants India to fall would prefer such a situation.

It is in our hands to decide whether we make Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP), fully operational, allow Phase-II and Phase-III to proceed to ensure that we reach 9.8 GW or more depending on reactor technology available. Understand that we consume a maximum of 11.6 GW. This power plant even if at full operational capacity of 9.8 GW by 2014 would change our lives and help our manufacturing industry. To begin with we get 1GW x 2 units, 2000 MW of which 1980MW 
(990MW x 2) would be usable as soon as Phase-I engages. This would permit us to proceed with Phase-II of the project.

If you are a citizen of India, better yet if you reside in Tamil Nadu, then ...
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