Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC), which is operating plants with 4,780 Mw capacity in the country, has got yet another push, as it can now expedite talks with the US nuclear major Westinghouse Electric Company for the procurement of AP1000 reactors for the proposed project at Mithi Virdhi, Gujarat. This was possible as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week has released the final safety evaluation report on the technical review of the AP1000 standard nuclear reactor design. Westinghouse Electric Company had submitted its application for the AP1000 design on March 28, 2002. The US nuclear regulator's certification would be ratified in due course of time by the US Senate.
NPC has already initiated pre-project activities in Mithi Virdhi with ground breaking planned in the current year or early next year.
NPC chairman and managing director SK Jain told Business Standard "The US nuclear safety regulator has given its certification for AP1000 reactors of Westinghouse Electric Company. This paves way for NPC to pursue techno commercial talks with Westinghouse Electric Company." He informed that NPC has evolved a business model for the Mithi Virdhi project. He admitted that the certification was quite crucial especially in the wake of stress tests and review conducted across the nuclear producing countries after the Fukushima accident.
Balendra Sutharshan, director, India Business Development, Westinghouse, last year had told this correspondent that the AP1000 nuclear power plant makes the most sense within the existing power system infrastructure in India as it is today. About 1,117 MWe, the output of the AP1000 would pose no adverse risk to the existing grid, and would mitigate any additional, costly upgrades to the infrastructure to support the plants.
"We are the leading supplier of commercial nuclear technology worldwide, and nearly half the world’s 441 nuclear plants are based on our technology, and our AP1000 technology is the most modern, and advanced nuclear power plant available anywhere in the world. It is also a lot simpler to construct, which reduces the construction time and cost, not to mention less maintenance after the plant is up and producing electricity," Sutharshan said.
The US nuclear regulator says the AP1000 nuclear reactor design is a pressurized water reactor with a power rating of 3415 megawatts thermal (MWt) and an electrical output of at least 1,000 megawatts electric (MWe). The AP1000 design contains many features that are not found in current operating reactors. "A variety of engineering and operational improvements provide additional safety margins and address the Commission’s severe accident, safety goal, and standardization policy statements. The most significant improvement to the design is the use of safety systems that employ passive means, such as gravity, natural circulation, condensation and evaporation, and stored energy, for accident mitigation. These passive safety systems perform safety injection, residual heat removal, and containment cooling functions."
Further, the US nuclear regulator notes some features of the AP1000, compared to currently operating reactors, include a longer reactor core design, a larger pressurizer, an in-containment refueling water storage tank, an automatic depressurization system, a revised main control room design with a digital microprocessor-based instrumentation and control system, hermetically sealed canned reactor coolant pump motors mounted to the steam generator, and increased battery capacity. In addition, the facility is designed for a 60-year life, which exceeds the projected 40-year combined operating license period, and employs structural modules.
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