New Delhi, Aug 8: As the world’s first Generation 3-plus nuclear power unit was connected to the power grid in Russia last week, experts in India say the next nuclear power plant that India and Russia are to set up together may have a similar reactor.
The Unit 6 of Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant in Russia has the most powerful VVER-1200, with 20 percent more capacity than earlier generation VVER-1000 reactors that India has at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. It was connected to the Russian power grid on Friday.
Eminent nuclear scientist and former Chairman of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India M.R. Srinivasan told IANS that India expects to build similar units at the second site where India and Russia will be setting up a nuclear power plant.
“The launch of the new 1,200 MW NPP, such as the one at Novovoronezh is of interest for India. We expect to build the larger size units at the second site that is likely to be made available for Russian reactors,” said Srinivasan, who has played a key role in the development of India’s nuclear power programme.
He also said that the safety features at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, built by India and Russia, were good, but those in the VVER 1200 plants are expected to be better.
“India is satisfied with the safety provisions of Russian Nuclear Power Units. Indian and Russian nuclear safety regulatory authorities have collaborated at Kudankulam to enhance the safety of the reactors substantially. We expect the 1,200 MW unit also to have highest standards of safety and reliability,” he said.
According to the Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy Between India and Russia, both sides have plans to build complete construction and commissioning of 12 power units in the next two decades.
While Kudankulam is the first plant with six units — two of which are functioning now, the site for the second plant is yet to be finalised.
Vladimir Angelov, Director for Projects in India for ASE, the engineering and construction division of Russian state atomic power corporation Rosatom, in an interview to IANS earlier had said VVER-1200 type reactors will be constructed in India with the implementation of the most up-to-date safety technological solutions.
Rosatom officials, meanwhile, told IANS all of the post-Fukushima requirements have been applied to the new Novovoronezh NPP nuclear units.
The VVER-1200 units have better power economy, and involve lesser staff, a Rosatom official said.
“Due to the broad automation and centralization of functions and processes, the amount of staff, as opposed to nuclear units of the previous generation with reactors like VVER 1000, has been reduced by 30-40 percent. The design life of the main equipment has been increased twofold compared to the previous generation nuclear power units and currently equals 60 years,” the official said.
“The project provides us with the possibility to build reference nuclear power plants across areas with diverse natural and geographical conditions and technogenic impacts. It can be implemented on sites with nine different foundations, from rocks to soft soils,” the official said.
The main feature of the VVER-1200 project is its unique combination of active and passive safety systems, and the nuclear power unit is equipped with two protective shells with a ventilated space between them.
The internal protective shell ensures that space where the reactor is placed is sealed, while the external shell is designed to resist natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or accidents like explosions or plane crashes.
Passive safety systems in the plant are capable of functioning even in the case of a complete loss of power supply, officials said.
A core melt localization device (CMLD), or a “core catcher”, is installed at the bottom of the station protective shell. It is made for localization and cooling the molten core material in case of a hypothetical accident which can lead to damage of the core.
“The “core catcher” allows to preserve the integrity of the protective shell and thus to exclude radioactive emission in the environment even if the hypothetical accident is severe,” the official added.