Industry Analysis

India on brink of nuclear renaissance

There is something of a nuclear renaissance going on around the world. More reactors are under construction today than any time in the last 25 years, with China, India and Russia leading the way. 60 reactors are in construction world-wide.

Briefing about the developments on the nuclear sector, Shah Nawaz Ahmad, Senior Advisor, India, Middle East and South East Asia, World Nuclear Association (WNA) says, “The Indian government has recently given approval for building 10 reactors, of the indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) design. Russia is building VVER reactors at Kundankulam and discussions are on with EDF (France) and Westinghouse (US/Japan). When these reactors get finally approved, India would become a major hub for nuclear activity from around the world.”

India is also cooperating with other countries, most recently with Bangladesh. The reactors at Rooppur are being built by Russia, and are similar to the Russian VVERs being built in India. This will give opportunity to Indian business to supply equipment and services to Bangladesh, and may be other countries. According to Ahmad, all this is happening because of the inherent strengths of nuclear power which can be summarised as proven technology, safest bulk electricity generation technology, low pollution, reliable source of base load, with high capacity factors, and security of supply.

There is another driving force; climate change. Nuclear power emits no Green House gases. It is also a mature technology that is readily deployable. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its 2 deg C scenario, assigns nuclear power the highest (17 per cent) share of electricity generation. For other technologies to get to their share they still need to overcome several challenging technical issues (Carbon capture in the case of fossils; large electrical storage systems in the case of intermittent solar and wind).

It is surprising to note that the carbon foot-print of nuclear power is, not only much lower than fossil; it is actually the lowest, lower than renewable like wind and one-tenth of solar PV.

Ahmad states, “We at the WNA are of the opinion that nuclear can contribute 25 per cent by 2050. The nuclear industry supports this target of 1,000 GWe by 2050 as feasible. WNA’s harmony programme is working towards this target.”

Concerned about the need for power in India, Dr Homi Bhabha had famously said, ‘No power is more expensive than no power’. Adding her concern about the warming planet Agneta Rising, Director General, WNA says, “There is no country in the world that has been able to decarbonise their electricity supply without using nuclear power.”

Shah Nawaz Ahmad, Senior Advisor, India, Middle East and South East Asia, World Nuclear Association (WNA)

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