941 Days and counting – Kaiga nuclear plant powers on

Reflecting the maturity of India’s nuclear power technology, indigenous Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka has set a world record of 895 days of continuous operation among Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors. The earlier world record of 940 days was held by Heysham-2 Unit-8 (610 MWe AGR) of UK.

Unit-1 of Kaiga Generating Station (KGS-1) has become first among PHWRs and second among all nuclear power reactors (of all technologies) in the world in terms of continuous operation. The unit has been operating since May 13, 2016. KGS-1 (220 MW) in an indigenous PHWR fuelled by domestic fuel that started commercial operation on November 16, 2000.

“This landmark has demonstrated that nation’s capability in nuclear power generation technolog of PHWR has fully matured. It evidences the excellence in design, construction, safety, quality and operation safety; and maintenance practices,” Department of Atomic Energy said in the compilation of its year-end achievements. In the course of achieving this feat, Unit-1 of KGS plant operated to 99.4 per cent of its capacity.

Located 56 km from Karwar, the Kaiga plant has four units. Each unit generates 220 MW power. The power generated is supplied to Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Kaiga is an example of the sturdiness of Indian nuclear industry in the face of international sanctions after the country conducted second nuclear tests in Pokharan in 1998. The construction of the plant had started in 1999.

Indian nuclear power plants have demonstrated continuous operation for long periods exceeding a year 28 times so far. Three reactors, KGS-1 (895 days), RAPS-3 (777 days) and RAPS-5 (765days) have operated continuously for more than two years.

India presently has 22 reactors operating in the country with a cumulative capacity of 6780 MW (including RAPS-1 (100 MW) under extended shutdown) and has eight reactors with a capacity of 6200 MW under construction. Work has also been initiated on 12 more reactors (9000 MW) accorded administrative approval and financial sanction by the Government.