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Energyensemble.com - Nuke Power: A Cheaper Alternative?

Needed: Political Will to Push Through Nuclear Agenda
 
Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin recently said that nuclear power is the future of energy for India. Kadakin, ofcourse, represents a country that is India’s time-tested ally and already in discussions with India to construct a third and fourth reactor at India's Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu. "Nuclear power is the only way out of the situation. It can make India self-sufficient in energy. Otherwise, even if India buys all the oil in the world, it would not be sufficient for its energy needs," he has reportedly said. While downplaying environmental concerns about the facility and labeling Kudankulam as one of the safest nuclear power facilities in the world, he said that it could resist the strongest of tornadoes or even direct impact by an aircraft. His country is equally keen on firming up similar collaborations for units five and six as well.
 
Dr Singh and Mr Kadakin’s observations are to be seen in the light of the fact that the country’s power demand is growing increasingly by the day. India's dependence on imported energy resources and the inconsistent reform of the energy sector are challenges to satisfying rising demand. Coal provides 68 per cent of the electricity at present, but reserves are limited. Gas provides 12 per cent, hydro 12 per cent. The per capita electricity consumption figure is expected to double by 2020, with 6.3 per cent annual growth, and reach 5000-6000 kWh by 2050, requiring about 8000 TWh/yr then. There is an acute demand for more and more reliable power supplies. One third of the population is not connected to any grid.
 
While the Russian Ambassador may have had some business interests, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has also said, “To meet the rising aspirations of our people, the supply of affordable clean energy will be one of our foremost national challenges.. And nuclear energy will remain an essential and increasingly important element of our energy mix.”  India actually has a vision of becoming a world leader in nuclear technology due to its expertise in fast reactors and thorium fuel cycle.
 
Keeping this growing demand-supply gap in mind, India has lined up bold plans for its nuclear sector – 470GW by 2050, more than the entire world can produce now. These facts on paper notwithstanding, India is finding its tough to translate its nuclear plans into action for more reasons than one. Equally significantly, the plans for new power plants are being resisted by violent protest, existing ones are stricken by radiation leaks, and uranium mines are plagued by reports of thievery and smuggling.
 
Amidst all such plans and unfulfilled ambitions, the Atomic Energy Commission envisages some 500 GWe nuclear on line by 2060, and has since speculated that the amount might be higher still at 600-700 GWe by 2050, providing half of all electricity. There is another projection which suggests that country’s nuclear share may rise to 9 per cent by 2037. The final figure in the long run would however depend on political will and determination to execute plans. 
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