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Kudankulam 1st unit commissioning may take longer

Commercial operations of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant's first unit is expected to take more time with the Nuclear Power Corporation setting the deadline till 22 July for commissioning the 1,000 MW unit.

Nuclear Power Corporation of India is implementing the 2,000 MW Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu. The plant, which has two units having 1,000 MW generation capacity each, is being set up with the technical co-operation of Russia.In a petition submitted to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), Nuclear Power Corp has sought permission to inject 'infirm power' into the grid from the first unit up to the date of commercial operation or till 22 July, 2014.CERC has granted permission for the same after taking into consideration submissions made by Nuclear Power Corp.Successful testing of reactor, turbine-generator, feed water pump system and the control and protection system of different transients are mandatory as per Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, before declaring Commercial Operation Date (COD) of the project.

COD refers to the day from which the unit starts full commercial generation of electricity. As per the rules, a generator can inject ‘infirm power’ into the grid before the COD only for a maximum of six months from the date of first synchronisation of the concerned unit.
For the same, the entity has to also seek approval from the Regional Load Despatch Centre (RLDC). Generally ‘infirm power’ refers to supply that is not committed and mainly fed into the grid as part of testing purposes. In the case of Kudankulam project's first unit, the synchronisation was carried out on 22 October, 2013 but commercial operation has not been declared for various reasons.

Against this backdrop, Nuclear Power Corp had requested CERC for permission to inject infirm power into the grid up to the date of commercial operation of first unit or till 22 July, 2014.As per Nuclear Power Corp's website, the first unit of 1,000 MW is expected to commercially operate from June 2014.Going by the schedule, commissioning tests under Phase C1 and Phase C2 were completed on 3 January and 5 April, respectively, while Phase C3 activities were to start from 25 April.

The Phase C3 related to commissioning involves test of reactor, turbine-generator, secondary feed water system, control systems and full load rejection tests, among others, CERC said.‘Phase C3 is expected to be completed by first week of June 2014 and thereafter, the process of regulatory approval from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board shall be started by the petitioner. Unit-1 of the project is expected to be declared for commercial operation by 22 July, .2014,’ CERC order dated 12 May said.

Prior to declaration of commercial operations of the unit, commissioning activities are divided into three phases — A, B and C.The first two phases mainly focus on individual equipment and system commissioning are completed. Further Phase C is sub-divided into three stages — CI, C2 and C3 — that focus on evaluation of system performance to various transients against acceptance criteria.  Allowing the extension, CERC also asked Nuclear Power Corp to take all efforts to ensure the commercial operation of first unit of Kudankulam by that date.
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