Power utilities worried over shutdown of unit 1 of Madras Atomic Power Station in India 


Power utilities in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu — Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation (Tantransco), and Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company (Tangedco) — have expressed concern over the shutdown of Unit 1 of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), as it has led to reduced power generation affecting areas in the southern part of the state capital Chennai. 
Both the power utilities of Tamil Nadu have written to the Southern Regional Power Committee on the shutdown of Unit 1 of the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) since January 18, 2018. 
Tangedco, which has 75 percent share of the installed capacity of 440 MW of both the units of MAPS, has expressed concern to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), the operator of MAPS.  
According to sources in Tangedco, the NPCIL has informed it that the power generation from Unit 1 of MAPS was having technical issues and that it would not be functioning in 2022-23. 
Tantransco also demanded that the biennial shutdown of the unit be planned either before January 2023 or after August 2023. This, according to the communique by the Tamil Nadu power utility, was to keep the power network stable. 

India’s atomic power complex at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu, located 80 kms south of the state capital Chennai, houses the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) – the Department of Atomic Energy’s (DAE) second largest establishment after the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai – besides the Madras Atomic Power Station, and the under construction 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) Bhavini. 

The Kalpakkam complex also houses a sodium cooled Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), based on the French reactor Rapsodie. The reactor, which attained its first criticality in October 1985, has been in operation at its maximum attainable power level of 10.5 MW. A reactor with a small core, it is the first of its kind in the world to use plutonium-uranium mixed carbide as a driver fuel. 

The state of Tamil Nadu is also home to India’s largest nuclear power plant located at Kudankulam, being built with the assistance of the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom. The 1,000 MW each units 1 and 2 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) started commercial operations in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Rosatom is similarly collaborating with the state-run NPCIL in the construction of four more units at Kudankulam – 3, 4, 5 and 6 – of 1,000 MW capacity each.