India’s second indigenously built 700 MW reactor at Kakrapar connected to grid

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India’s second fully indigenously built 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) – the unit 4 at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) in Gujarat state – was connected to the grid last month, according to the operator state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).   

The fourth unit at Kakrapar attained criticality, or the start of controlled fission chain reaction, on December 17, 2023, while the initial loading of nuclear fuel in the unit had been undertaken in late October 2023.   

The country’s only other indigenously built 700 MW reactor, the KAPP unit 3, began commercial operations in September 2023, following its connection to the grid in January 2021. 

Days following the grid connection, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the KAPP to formally dedicate the first two Indian-designed 700 MW PHWRs to the nation. 

“These reactors have been designed, constructed, commissioned and operated by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) with the supply of equipment and execution of contracts by Indian industries/companies reflecting the true spirit of a self-reliant India,” NPCIL said in a statement. 

The PHWR design used for Kakrapar 3 and 4 was developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) located near Mumbai. 

With their connection to the western grid, both the 700 MW units are designated to supply power to the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Goa, as well as to the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. 

The NPCIL now has four operational nuclear power units at Kakrapar – two 220 MW units and two 700 MW units.  Kakrapar 1 and 2 – both Indian-designed PHWRs of 220 MW each – entered commercial operation in 1993 and 1995, respectively.     

NPCIL also said that a further eight reactors with a total capacity of 6,800 MW are under construction by NPCIL, while pre-project activities are under way for 10 reactors with a total capacity of 7000 MW for completion by 2031-32 to enable India to reach an installed nuclear power capacity of 22,480 MW. 

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 speeds up the setting up of nuclear power plants in the country.    

Construction is also underway of four more Russian supplied units of 1,000 MW capacity each at India’s largest nuclear power plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu state. The units 1 and 2 at Kudankulam, also of 1,000 MW each, started commercial operations in 2014 and 2016, respectively.    

India currently has 24 reactors in operation with a total capacity of over 8,200 MW.