The fourth unit at the Kaiga nuclear power plant in the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka was connected to the grid today, Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) announced.

Kaiga 4 is a 202 MWe indigenously-designed pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR), similar to the three units already in operation at the site. The reactor achieved first criticality on 27 November 2010 and is now the country’s 20th operating unit. Electricity generated by Kaiga 4 will be supplied to the southern Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Pudducherry.

The installed capacity at the Kaiga plant has now increased to 880 MWe, making it the third largest nuclear power plant in India, after Tarapur (1400 MWe) and Rawatbhata (1180 MWe).

The Kaiga units are not under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, so cannot use imported uranium. However, a shortage of domestic uranium led to a delay in Kaiga 4’s construction. First concrete for the unit was poured in May 2002 and it had originally been planned to start commercial operation in September 2007.

India now ranks sixth in the world — behind the USA, France, Japan, Russia and South Korea — in terms of the number of reactors in operation, according to NPCIL. The fleet adds up to a total nuclear capacity of 4780 MWe.

The country’s nuclear generating capacity will reach 7280 MWe by 21012, and 10,080 MWe by 2017. NPCIL’s goal is to have 20,000 MWe of installed nuclear generating capacity by 2020 and 63,000 MWe of capacity by 2032.

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