Bangalore: India ranked sixth in the world`s elite nuclear club, with its 20th nuclear-powered reactor at Kaiga in Karnataka achieving criticality Saturday, a senior official said.
"India is elevated to the sixth rank in an elite club of nations, after the US, France, Japan, Russia and Korea to have 20 or more nuclear reactors in operation," Kaiga generating station director J.P. Gupta said in a statement.
In nuclear terms, criticality signifies the start of self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction in the reactor core, which leads to power generation.
"The fourth unit will be synchronised to the southern grid in a fortnight after mandatory tests and supplied proportionately to Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pudducherry from January 1," Gupta told IANS later from Kaiga, about 500 km from here.
As part of the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), all the four 220 MW units of Kaiga located in the coastal Uttara Kannada district are indigenous pressurised heavy water reactors fuelled with the uranium sourced from domestic mines.
"Karnataka`s share of the power will be 27 percent and the distribution utilities will be charged at Rs.3 per unit," Gupta said.
Kaiga`s fourth unit is the third reactor to become operational after the fifth and sixth units of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) this fiscal (2010-11), increasing the nuclear-installed capacity to 4,780 MW from 4,560 MW," Gupta said.
Two light water reactors of 1,000 MW each at Kudankulam in southern Tamil Nadu and a 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam near Chennai are at advanced stages of completion.
"In addition, four indigenously designed 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactors, including two at Kakrapar in Gujarat and Rawatbhata in Rajasthan are under construction," NPCIL said in the statement.
The installed nuclear power capacity in the country will increase to 7,280 MW in 2012 and to 10,080 MW by 2017.
"Our target is to reach 20,000 MW by 2020 in the medium term and 63,000 MW by 2032 in the long term, with 700 MW from pressurised heavy water reactors and 1,000 MW from light water reactors," the statement added.