The ASE Group of Companies, a subsidiary of Russia’s State-owned Rosatom nuclear energy group, has announced that key contracts for Stage III of India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant (NPP) have been signed on the last day of July.
The contracts cover priority design work, and working design and supply of equipment for the NPP. They were signed between ASE company JSC Atomstroyexport and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). Stage III of the programme will involve the construction of the fifth and sixth reactors at the Kudankulam site, in the Tirunelvekli district in Tamil Nadu, about 650 km south of Chennai.
Atomstroyexport is responsible for the detailed design and the supply of the equipment, as well as the provision of technical assistance for NPCIL. However, responsibility for the general design of the project is vested in another ASE company, JSC Atomenergoproekt. (There is a third company in the ASE Group: JSC Atomproekt.)
“The project for the construction of units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam NPP is [moving] to the practical implementation phase,” observed ASE VP: Southern Asia Andrey Lebedev. “Designing begins, as well as development of procurement procedures of the main equipment of the Russian production to complete Stage III of the Indian NPP.”
These contracts follow the signing, at the start of June, of the general framework agreement between NPCIL and the ASE group for the construction of Phase III of Kudankulam. At the same ceremony, held during the VXIII Annual Russian-Indian Summit, in St Petersburg, the intergovernmental credit protocol was also signed. Under this protocol, Russia is providing India with the credit to cover the delivery of equipment and documentation of the Russian-designed reactors that will be the fifth and sixth units at Kudankulam.
The contracts were approved by Rosatom, the Russian Federation Economic Development Ministry and the Finance Ministry on July 13. In India, the NPCIL board approved the contracts on July 19.
The original agreement to establish an NPP at Kudankulam was signed between the two countries in late 1988. All the units at Kudankulam are VVER-1000 designs, each with a generating capacity of 1 000 MW. The VVER is the Russian version of the pressurised water reactor (PWR) system. (The two reactors at South Africa’s Koeberg NPP are PWRs.) Kudankulam Unit 1 started commercial operation at the very end of 2014, while Unit 2 followed in March 2017. These two reactors make up Stage I of the programme. The construction of Stage II, involving units 3 and 4, was started in October last year. Unit 3 is reportedly scheduled to start commercial operation in 2025. Units 1 to 4 are all examples of the AES-92 reactor. (To clarify: the AES-92 is a VVER reactor with a capacity of 1 000 MW; Rosatom has separate designations for the reactors and for the complete NPPs.)
“ASE is one of the global leaders in nuclear power engineering and holds 30% of the global NPP construction market,” stated the group in its press release. “ASE has presentative offices, branch offices and operational offices operating in 15 countries around the world, with almost 80% of its portfolio coming from projects abroad.” It also constructs research reactors and provides NPP decommissioning services, as well as a range of complex engineering project services (not restricted to the nuclear sector).
NPCIL is a State-owned company under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy. It was set up in 1987 and is “responsible for design, construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear power reactors”, as stated on its website. It functions as a commercial company (a “profit-making and dividend-paying company with the highest level credit rating”) and currently operates 22 commercial nuclear reactors, with a total installed capacity of 6 780 MW.