Should India consider phasing out nuclear power?


Should India consider phasing out nuclear power?


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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