June 12, 2008 11:35:53 pm
After fuel shortage forced Nuclear Power Corporation of India to delay commissioning of new units at Kaiga Atomic Power Station and Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, NPCIL has admitted that because of fuel constraints it “may not be possible” to raise production levels at Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. The Kalpakkam plant is one of the oldest nuclear power stations in the country.
NPCIL has, till now, never given a plant-wise indication on how fuel shortage has hit production levels of existing units and has officially termed the recent fall in plant load factor (PLF) of all nuclear power plants in the country on account of a general “mismatch” in the demand and supply of fuel. In a recent communiqué, however, NPCIL has put it on record that it would be unable to raise production levels at the 400 MW (two units of 220 MW each) Kalpakkam plant on account of fuel “constraints”.
When asked by Southern Regional Power Committee on whether NPCIL can help in meeting the power demand of the region, NPCIL, apart from pointing out delay in commissioning of unit four in Kaiga in Karnataka, specifically stated that “with the constraints regarding fuel availability continuing, it may not be possible for us to raise generation from MAPS units”.
NPCIL records illustrate how fuel shortage has hit production at their Kalpakkam plant. Production from unit one of Kalpakkam (220 MW, started in 1984) fell from a high 97 per cent capacity factor in 2003-04 to 72 per cent in 2006-07. Production from unit two (also 220 MW, started in 1986) which was at 77 per cent capacity factor in 2003-04 fell to 64 per cent in 2006-07. Interestingly, the availability factor of both these units during this period varied between 99 per cent and 86 per cent. What this means is that (taking unit one’s performance in 2006-07), the unit is technically ready to generate 95 per cent of the capacity, but is only generating 72 per cent of the capacity. One of the possible reasons for this gap is fuel shortage.
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On an average, the PLF of all nuclear plants has come down from a high 80 per cent to around 40 to 50 per cent on account of fuel shortage. Added to this, new units at Rajasthan APS (unit five and six) and Kaiga (unit four) are delayed because NPCIL does not have the required fuel.
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