Should India consider phasing out nuclear power?

 

Should India consider phasing out nuclear power?
 

Background:

The topic was discussed in an editorial recently. The topic has been in news since Germany had recently closed its last nuclear plant.
 

Nuclear Energy in India:

o Fifth-largest source of electricity in India.
o At present, we have over 22 nuclear reactors in 7 power plants across the country, which together produce 6,780 MW of nuclear power. Majority of reactors in India are Pressurized heavy water reactors.
o As recent as January 2021, the Kakrapar Atomic Project (KAPP-3), India's first 700 MWe unit and the biggest indigenously developed variant of the PHWR, was connected to the grid.
o India is also working on an entirely indigenous thorium-based nuclear plant, 'Bhavni,' which will be the first of its kind using Uranium-233. The experimental thorium plant 'Kamini' already exists in Kalpakkam.
 

What is the need of Nuclear energy?

o Cheaper to operate compared to coal or gas plants.
o It has the potential to reduce our energy import bills and significantly improve our Current Account figures.
o Unlike solar and wind power, which are dependent on weather conditions, nuclear power provides a reliable, high-density source of energy that is widely available.
o It is a cleaner source of energy
o Thorium reserves in India makes nuclear energy a promising solution for India's energy needs.
 

Why are there calls for phasing out Nuclear energy?

o India’s nuclear plan is premised on working around its limited supply of enriched uranium, which is difficult to source and is a burden on finances.
o Considering we have sufficient reserves of Thorium, we are yet to shift to thorium based nuclear power plants.
o Nuclear waste produced can have adverse impacts on life, leading to cancerous growths and genetic issues.
o Nuclear power plants are capital intensive and recent nuclear builds have suffered major cost overruns.
o Problems with land acquisitions.
 

Way Forward

o To realize the potential of Nuclear energy in India government companies like NTPC should be allowed to go solo in the sector. Monopoly of NPCIL is harming the prospects.
o Invest in research and development of advanced nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors (Reduction of costs, increased safety)
Source – The Hindu 

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