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Misguided Nuclear Policy

Context

Indian Government plans to build 10 indigenous reactors in fleet mode and have granted in principle approval for 28 additional reactors including 24 to be imported from France, U.S and Russia.

Relevance

GS-III: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.

Dimensions of the Article

  • India’s Plan of Expanding Nuclear Energy
  • Advantages of Nuclear Energy
  • Issues with Nuclear Energy
  • Renewable Energy vs Nuclear Energy
  • Way Forward

India’s Plan of Expanding Nuclear Energy

  • India presently has the capacity of 6780 MW of electricity generation via Nuclear Energy.
  • Present share of Nuclear Energy in 1%.
  • India plans to expand the capacity to 22480 MW by 2031.
  • Many new nuclear power plants have been proposed among which Jaitapur Power Plant is most remarkable.

Advantages of Nuclear Energy

  • Reduce India’s Energy Poverty where about 20% of the population still does not have access to energy.
  • Meeting the energy demand of the country which is ever increasing.
  • Providing an impetus to economic growth via sustainable energy supply.
  • Quantities of fuel needed for nuclear power plants are lower than conventional energy generation units making it more efficient.
  • Energy Supply via Nuclear Power Plant is Climate Change Resilient.
  • Largely environment friendly and non polluting.

Issues with Nuclear Energy

  • Capital Intensive and can suffer from cost overruns. Eg. V.C. Summer Nuclear Project, U.S.A
  • Declining trend can be seen globally in the contribution of nuclear energy to energy supply. Eg. US’ capacity is projected to be contracting.
  • India’s import dependency might bring issues in other countries to India. Eg. Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal has not led to establishment of a single nuclear power plant in 13 years.
  • High Transmission costs would lead to provision of high subsidies putting pressure on government expenses.
  • Local People and Community have had Security concerns over the Nuclear Projects.
  • Liability law of India isn’t strong enough to hold the corporate entities accountable in event of a mishap with a Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Climate Change is increasing the risk of Nuclear Accidents. Eg. Hanaul Nuclear Plant in South Korea.

Renewable Energy vs Nuclear Energy

  • Renewable Energy is cheaper to generate and maintain as compared to Nuclear Energy.
  • Transmission costs are cheap and can be easily integrated into smart grids.
  • Renewable Energy is completely free of pollution and puts no pressure on land or poses high risks to people.
  • International Energy Agency has dubbed Solar Energy as the ‘The new King of Electricity’.

Way Forward

India must tread cautiously while expanding its Nuclear Energy Program It must strengthen its accountability and liability mechanism, devise ways to make nuclear energy competitive and cheap and ensure safety at the same time. India must assess all its investments with due consideration with all stakeholders. The technology must be harnessed but with care and consideration.

Source – The Hindu

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October 2022
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