Declining role of Nuclear Energy

Relevance – Nuclear Energy, India USA Relations

Why the role of nuclear energy is declining –

    • Rising cost of nuclear energy (compared to other sources) – Electricity from nuclear reactors has become costlier compared to other new and renewable sources of energy – the cost of nuclear electricity produced is around Rs. 25 per unit – compared with solar at Rs. 3 per unit; wind and solar energy costs have declined over time and will decline further.
    • High cost of nuclear reactors and plantsThe cost of nuclear reactors is very high in addition to the high costs associated with the establishment of nuclear power plants. For example, the six reactors being purchased from the US under the 2016 civil nuclear deal would only cost around six lakh crore rupees. 
    • Safety concerns – There is threat of serious accidents (Fukushima disaster of 2011 in Japan). 
    • No guarantee of safety – The companies providing nuclear reactors or establishing nuclear power plants are unwilling to give guarantees with respect to safety. For example, there is no guarantee about safety from Westinghouse – the supplier of the nuclear reactors to India under the 2016 deal.  
    • Long term costs – There are long-term costs associated with nuclear reactor accidents. Examples – In Fukushima (Japan) and Chernobyl (Ukraine) cleaning is still going on with huge sum of money being spent; 
    • The fraction of electricity generated by nuclear plants has stagnated at 3% for decades.

Related Fact – As of March 2018, India has 22 nuclear reactors in operation in 7 nuclear power plants, with a total installed capacity of 6,780 MW. Nuclear power supplied 3.22% of Indian electricity in 2017. 7 more reactors are under construction with a combined generation capacity of 4,300 MW. 

Example of Jadugoda, Jharkhand can be given in the Indian context.

Practice Questions –

  1. Nuclear energy has moved to a secondary source for the energy needs in India. Do you agree? Give reasons. – 150 words.
  2. The 2008 Civil Nuclear Deal between India and USA has completely different aims for both the countries. Comment. – 150 words