The first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu has reached 100% power for the first time. It is due to enter commercial operation next month.

Although the Russian-supplied VVER-1000 pressurized water reactor was completed in March 2011, its commissioning was delayed due to protests and legal action following the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The unit eventually achieved first criticality last July and was connected to the grid in October. Since then, output from the plant has been increased in stages, with regulatory approval required for each increase in power.

With the plant operating at 75% capacity, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) was given permission by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on 1 May to increase output to 90% and then 100% for a limited duration.

NPCIL has now announced that the reactor reached full power at 1.20pm on 7 June. The company said that tests will be conducted and the results sent to the AERB for review and final clearance for continued operation at 100%. The unit — currently the largest of India’s 21 operating power reactor — is scheduled to begin commercial operation next month.

Two VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors are being built at Kudankulam as part of a bilateral agreement between India and Russia signed back in 1988. First concrete for unit 1 was poured in March 2002, with that for unit 2 following in four months later. The units were originally scheduled to begin commercial operation in December 2007 and December 2008 respectively.

The start of commercial operation of the second Kudankulam unit, which has entered the commissioning phase, is now expected in March 2015.

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