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COP28 Summit: Tripling Nuclear Capacity by 2050

Context:

At the COP28 climate meeting, more than 20 countries have pledged to triple the global nuclear installed capacity by 2050, in a bid to attain a net-zero emissions status. Just as in the case of the pledge tripling renewable energy, India is not a part of the nuclear energy commitment as well, in keeping with its position not to join alliances outside the COP process.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. International Commitment to Enhance Nuclear Energy
  2. Imperative Expansion of Nuclear Energy
  3. Prospects of India’s Nuclear Energy Growth

International Commitment to Enhance Nuclear Energy

  • Global Nuclear Energy Expansion: Initiated by the United States, 22 nations including France, the UK, Japan, Canada, South Korea, and Ukraine have consented to collaborate to triple the nuclear energy output by the year 2050.
  • Recognition of Nuclear Energy: The agreement acknowledges:
    • Nuclear energy’s crucial contribution to the global net-zero greenhouse emission target.
    • The significance of nuclear science and tech in climate monitoring and mitigation.
    • The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) vital role.
    • Nuclear power as a major clean energy source enhancing energy reliability.
  • Non-Participating Nations: Notably absent from the agreement were China and Russia, despite possessing rapidly expanding nuclear programs.
  • Future Developments:
    • The IAEA’s leader disclosed plans for an unprecedented Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels to deliberate on nuclear energy’s influence on:
      • Decreasing fossil fuel dependency.
      • Strengthening energy autonomy.
      • Fostering economic growth.

Imperative Expansion of Nuclear Energy

Eco-friendly yet Finite Energy:
  • Nuclear power is acknowledged as an environmentally friendly, although finite, energy resource.
Current Global Nuclear Capacity:
  • Presently, the IAEA reports 370 GW of nuclear energy production across 31 nations, contributing to 10% of global electricity.
  • Projected increase to a minimum of 1,000 GW by 2050, a threefold rise.
Climate Change Mitigation:
  • Nuclear energy is pivotal in maintaining global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear plants, by not emitting greenhouse gases, are integral to achieving a net-zero emission goal by 2050.
  • The International Energy Agency highlights that nuclear energy has circumvented roughly 70 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions over five decades.
  • Research supports that the target for a global net-zero carbon footprint necessitates immediate, continuous, and substantial investments in nuclear energy.
India’s Nuclear Energy Scenario:
  • Currently, India boasts an installed nuclear capacity of 6,780 MW.
  • With 8 new reactors under construction, anticipated to add another 6,800 MW, India’s nuclear capacity is expected to double soon.
  • Echoing Anil Kakodkar, former head of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, India is strategizing an extensive growth of its nuclear sector to meet its 2070 net-zero emission target.

Prospects of India’s Nuclear Energy Growth

  • Projected Expansion: By 2070, India’s nuclear energy infrastructure may require an expansion by a factor of 100 from its current levels to meet rising demands.
  • Renewables vs. Nuclear Debate: Although renewable energy sources are seen as a comprehensive solution, they may not suffice for India’s growing clean energy needs in the long term.
  • Nuclear Energy’s Role: To address its escalating demand for clean energy, India must substantially scale up its nuclear energy production.
  • International Collaboration: Participation in global forums like COP28 aligns with India’s energy strategy, even though India has yet to commit to specific nuclear energy targets.

-Source: Indian Express


March 2024
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