Nuclear Energy as Power Source in India – Advantages and Disadvantages
This article deals with ‘Nuclear Energy as Power Source in India – Advantages and Disadvantages .’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here
Installed capacity of India
As of April 2017 => 6,780 MW (6.78 GW) which constitutes ~2% of installed capacity of India
Problems with Nuclear Power generation in India
1.India’s domestic Uranium Reserve can support only 100 GW of energy.
- Our future depends upon development of third stage of Nuclear Program without which will remain dependant on imported Uranium as it is case with Oil currently.
2. Current Nuclear reactors consume significant amount of water.
- Hence most of upcoming plants will be set up near sea coasts. It will put pressure on the coastline & Western Ghats.
3. There are long gestation periods which increase costs of the plant significantly.
4. New safeguard requirements post Fukushima disaster has pushed per MW costs of Nuclear Reactors significantly higher in comparison to Thermal, Solar and Wind Plants.
- Jaitapur plant in Maharashtra (AREVA) is expected to cost 20 crore/ MW in comparison other sources cost 4 crore/ MW.
5. Some argue that Total costs of a Nuclear Lifecycle which involves Mining of Uranium, transportation , handling of waste generated etc is significantly more than economic value generated during lifetime of the functioning of the plant
6. Nuclear installations will be favorite targets of terrorists which can cause irreversible damage to people
So, Should Nuclear Energy be used ?
Strong arguments which justify use of nuclear energy are
- No Green House Gases (GHGs) are emitted in Nuclear Power generation => Helps to fight Global Warming
- It generates very limited waste in quantity (although far more hazardous in quality).
- Helpful to achieve Paris Pledges => 40% of energy from Non-fossil sources till 2020
- Increases image of country as technologically advanced nation .
- Non fluctuating source of renewable energy. Solar, Wind etc energy depend on sunshine, wind speed etc and hence fluctuate
- Cost of power from new nuclear reactors is increasing significantly post Fukushima Disaster . Power from new reactors costs between Rs. 6.2-6.5/Unit
- In case of any nuclear leakage & accident in nuclear power plants, damage is immense & incurable
- Land acquisition issues , need for large water reservoirs for the reactors, & concerns about a possible tsunami scenario
- Major Nuclear Companies like Toshiba-owned Westinghouse, Areva etc are on verge of Bankruptcy pointing towards fact that Nuclear Energy has become unviable
- Investing in Solar and Wind Energy is better option . Cost of Solar Energy has decreased to around ₹4.5 / kWh compared to ₹6.5 kWh of Nuclear Energy
- Uranium contamination of ground water due to Mining. Eg : in Rajasthan
Conclusion : India is producing miniscule 2% of its energy from Nuclear Energy. Although we should increase this share but at the same time safety protocol should be updated