India’s first indigenously built 700 MW reactor becomes fully operational

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India’s first fully indigenously built 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) – unit 3 at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) in Gujarat state – has begun commercial operations. 

Unit 3 of the KAPP operated by the state-run Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL), which achieved its first criticality, or controlled self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction, in July 2020, was connected to the grid on January 10, 2021.  

The third unit reactor is now operating at full capacity. A fourth unit at Kakrapar, also of 700 MW capacity, is currently under construction.   

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lauded the achievement of the country’s first indigenously developed 700 MW nuclear reactor becoming fully operational. 

“India achieves another milestone. The first largest indigenous 700 MW Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant Unit-3 in Gujarat starts operations at full capacity. Congratulations to our scientists and engineers,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter). 

Earlier, the former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman, Anil Kakodkar, had told Nuclear Asia that he was extremely pleased about the development. “Kakrapar 3 is a true example of indigenous technology developed and built in India with fifteen more such units to follow in fleet mode,” Kakodkar said. 

“The success of this 700 MW unit comes on the back of India’s nuclear programme that has earlier put on stream indigenously designed reactors with capacities of up to 540 MW”, he added. 

Kakrapar 1 and 2 – both Indian-designed PHWRs of 220 MW each – entered commercial operation in 1993 and 1995, respectively.   

The Indian government has earlier approved the fleet mode construction of ten PHWRs, each of 700 MW capacity, at a total estimated cost of $16.3 billion. The fleet mode of construction of multiple units ensures standardisation, lower costs and speeding up the setting up of nuclear power plants in the country. 

India currently has 23 reactors in operation with a total capacity of around 7,500 MW.