The initial loading of nuclear fuel into the Kakrapar-4 reactor core has begun, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. has announced. Permission for fuel load was granted by India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board “after carrying out stringent safety and security reviews,” according to the NPCIL.
The Indian-designed 630-MWe pressurized heavy water reactor’s sister unit, Kakrapar-3, entered commercial operation on June 30, after achieving its initial criticality in July of 2020 (and becoming the first PHWR-700 to produce electricity in the process).
The plant: In addition to the two PHWR-700 units, the Kakrapar facility—located along the western coast of India in the state of Gujarat—houses two 202-MWe four-loop PHWRs. Units 1 and 2 entered commercial operation in August 1993 and September 1995, respectively.
PHWR plans: India has plans for an additional 14 PHWR-700s. “With the successful and stable operation of [Kakrapar-3], the capability of NPCIL in setting up of indigenous reactors of PHWR technology of this size is validated and paves the path for early completion of the remaining 14 reactors, beginning with Units 7 and 8 of Rajasthan Atomic Power Project at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan,” the company said in its October 20 statement that announced the Kakrapar-4 fuel loading.
The Rajasthan plant is home to five operating units—one 187-MWe CANDU PHWR (Unit 2) and four 202-MWe four-loop PHWRs (Units 3–6). Rajasthan-1, a 90-MWe CANDU unit, has been off line since 2004 but has yet to be declared permanently closed.