Interview

Affordability, the key enabler

The right to electricity should join the right to food and shelter, the right to education, the right to life itself.
Shah Nawaz Ahmad, Sr Advisor, India, Middle East and South East Asia, World Nuclear Association
  Since millions of homes are deprived of power  Shah Nawaz Ahmad, Senior Advisor, India, Middle East and South East Asia, World Nuclear Association  feels its not worth commenting on the power surplus though he appreciates the ongoing initiatives. He states, “The government’s efforts for ‘Electricity for All’ deserves praise and our unstinted support. I applaud the increased electricity generation capacity that has been added recently.”
However, he adds, “I really cannot join this debate when a large proportion of our country-men remain without electricity.  A surplus can be declared for a product if people can’t afford it. [For when my production cannot be bought; I will have a surplus; always]. Electricity is an essential need. There is enough evidence to show that the growth of a society without electricity remains stunted. For India to become amongst the real greats, we need to have all our people in the electricity loop.”
Electricity for AllAs per Ahmad, the game-changer would be, when we can assure electricity for all. “The right to electricity should join the right to food and shelter, the right to education, the right to life itself,” he recommends.
“We need to use all our electricity generation options to achieve this. For the foreseeable future fossils will continue to play a major role, with ever increasing share being taken up low carbon alternatives. All electricity generation options have a role to play, to accelerate the game-change process for India,” he explains.Flavour of the seasonHe informs that the low carbon generation technologies are the flavour of the season. Now that the climate change agreement is in force national are legally bound to take action in this regard.
Ahmad points out a few options:

Fossil fuels will have to develop de- carbonisation technologies if they are to meet the stringent carbon emission requirements. Also pollution control requirements will get even more stringent regarding particulate and noxious gases.
Renewable have to develop storage technologies to cater to the 24/7 need for electricity. It is any body’s guess when these developments will take place and be marketed; though there are some good leads.
Nuclear power is a low carbon alternative that is readily available. Therefore it should surprise no-body, that in the 2 C scenario for 2050, the International Energy Agency, studies suggest that the largest component of electricity generation will not be from solar, or wind, but from nuclear.
Reviving nuclear milestoneAround the world, 64 nuclear power plants are under construction today. This is the highest in the last 25 years. And this is happening after Fukushima in 2011; where the reactors suffered damage after a big earthquake and a massive Tsunami damaged the reactors and led to several thousand dead in a developed country like Japan.
“I do not belittle the earthquake-Tsunami tragedy, but I need to add, that no one died because of radiation exposure from the damaged Fukushima Daichi reactors,” points out Ahmad.
He further informed that the reactors around the world underwent analysis and stress tests, and were declared capable of withstanding a Fukushima-like event before being permitted to continue operation. Most of the reactors around the world, including the developed world, are now back in operation, including some in Japan. The Japanese are taking a very cautious approach to these restarts.
“Nuclear power contributed towards about 10 per cent to the world’s electricity generation. The point to note is that, these nuclear power plants are operating at capacity factors in the high eighties and nineties. They give reliable 24/7 power for each rupee invested than other forms; whose capacity factors are far lower. Renewable have the lowest capacity factors,” he briefs.   
WNA’s ambitions India has very ambitious plans to increase its nuclear power capacity. India has a need for capacity of about 778GWe by the year 2032 for a growth rate of 8 per cent (as per Integrated Energy Policy of India).
In this context the Integrated Energy Policy envisages 63GWe (63, 000MWe) from nuclear power.
The capacity addition plan (63, 000 MWe) for nuclear envisages:

11, 200 MWe from indigenous PHWRs.
34,100 MW from imported LWRs (Currently these are expected to be sourced from Russia, USA and France based on published reports). I do see Korea and Japan also entering this space.
Balance through 500MWe/1000MWe Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) and Advanced Heavy Water Reactor ( AHWR). (This is in addition to the existing capacity of 6780MWe in operation and 6700 under construction).
“Going from a nuclear power base of 6,780MWe in 2016 to 63,000MWe in 2032, a period of 16 years is challenging task. It is also a huge opportunity for international collaboration in the nuclear power sector,” he explains.
The World Nuclear Association (WNA), as the foremost association of the world-wide nuclear industry, expects to facilitate international nuclear trade for India, in the same measure as it is doing world-wide in countries pursuing a nuclear power programme. “Our work is made all the more easier as almost all major players in the nuclear business are WNA members,” he shares. In India this includes the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL), Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) etc. “Our international members include almost all companies that India is dealing with, or intends to deal with, in the future. Thus we believe we will have a significant role to play no matter from which country India sources her reactors,” he concludes.

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