The Kudankulam nuclear power plant has all post-Fukushima safety requirements in place, said Alexey Pimenov, Chief executive of ROSATOM, South Asia, Marketing India Pvt Ltd, the Russian partner for state-run NPCIL in supplying reactors and running the plant. Pimenov told ET that commercial agreements for units 5 and 6 of the plant will be concluded soon.
What is the latest update on the Kudankulam NPP construction project in India?
Unit 1 of the Kudankulam NPP was put into commercial operation in December 2014, and Unit 2, - in late March of this year. Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam NPP are under construction.
The nominal capacity of Units 1 and 2 is 2000 MW. Unit 1produced over 13 million units of power by January,26 of this year. It had been continuously in operation for 278 days and posted more than 1,000 crore profit.
The tariff on Kudankulam NPP power generation is one of the most competitive tariffs in India and the region. It ismaintained at the level established by the Indian government back in 2010-2011 without any escalation. The cost of power generation from Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is Rs 4.10 per unit.
What is the current status of the agreement on Units 5 and 6?
The negotiations are on for Unit 5 and 6. We intend to sign a general framework agreement and a credit protocol based on negotiation results in the nearest future.
How safe is the Kudankulam NPP?
Kudankulam NPP is one of the safest in the world with all post-Fukushima safety requirements being implemented and functioning successfully. By the way, after the detailed analysis of the technical design of Units 1 and 2 we came to a conclusion that they would have withstood a Fukushima-like accident.
Active and passive safety systems ensure an unprecedented level of safety with the ability to prevent any anticipated operational occurrence. Among them are double localizing and protecting containment, passive heat removal system from reactor plant, core catcher, and closed industrial water intake for NPP.
The NPP is also protected from natural and technlogical disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes even plane crash.
We pay a lot of attention to the environmental safety as well. For example, when sea water for NPP is collected, it goes through a special system called "bucket" ensuring fish and plankton return to their natural habitat.
How many more units is ROSATOM planning to build in India?
The Strategic Vision adopted in December 2014 for strengthening cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy between Russia and India stipulates that at least 12 units of Russian design are to be commissioned in India within the next 20 years. As
far as we know, the Indian government is actively searching for sites to build new power plants.
Have you decided on the technology for this NPP?
In 2015, India declared its intent to allot a new site for the construction of Russian-designed power plants of with enhanced-capacity unites. Russia is ready to offer"Generation 3 plus" VVER-1200 reactors equipped with state-of-the-art safety systems.
Recently this year we have installed the world's first"Generation 3 plus" reactor at Novovoronezh NPP in Russia.
Are there any other areas for cooperation between India and Russia in the field of peaceful nuclear energy?
The last few years have been fruitful in terms of identifying new areas for cooperation between Indian companies and ROSATOM's enterprise. For example, the United Innovation Corporation and Hindustan Agro declared their intent to develop a network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centres.
Radiation technologies are known for destroying harmful microorganisms, bacteria and viruses in foods, and extending the shelf life of different products.
Are two countries cooperating in the high-tech and innovation spheres?
Yes, of course. For example, Isotop, a subsidiary of ROSATOM, supplied Cm-244 emission sources to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It will be used for calibrating the chemical composition of moonrocks and soil during Chadrayan-2, the second lunar mission.
Moreover, we have achieved success in developing and producing composite materials. UMATEX Group, another subsidiary of ROSATOM, signed an agreement with Indian companies on localizing the production of carbon clothes in India. This will allow us to cut costs and export joint Indo-Russian products. The development and production of mass-market products made of composite materials is stipulated as well, including helmets and high-pressure containers. These and other examples demonstrate that our cooperation goes beyond the construction of nuclear power plants.
What are the other promising areas for cooperation do you envision in the future?
Together we can solve the water crisis, which India has first-hand knowledge of. It is widely known that desalination is key to obtaining fresh water from sea water . The key challenge here is to ensure an uninterrupted, round-the-clock and stable supply of energy for running desalination equipment. Desalination plants can be constructed next to nuclear power plants, but not all of India has operating nuclear reactors in place. Floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs) under development in Russia might be a good solution for this. Not only are they capable of providing an uninterrupted supply of energy to those areas in India (especially coastal ones) that have no nuclear plants in their vicinity, but they can also provide large amounts of desalinated water.
What are the future prospects Indo-Russia relations in the sphere of the peaceful use of nuclear energy?
We are proud of the current level of Indo-Russian cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, including the construction of nuclear power plants and application of nuclear technologies in sustainable development, for example in strategic areas like medicine, agriculture, infrastructure and etc.
There is certainly a lot of hard work ahead, but I am confident that together we will achieve even more success that will be mutually beneficial to both our countries.