Does India lack a nuclear vision?

Does India lack a nuclear vision?

It was a major relief to component suppliers in the nuclear energy sector, when the Centre said they will not have any obligation if there is any liability. However, the major suppliers, for instance companies building the reactors, will not be absolved if there is such an eventuality. For a moment forget everything! Just focus on the situation. The available or known energy sources are - fossil fuels, nuclear energy, alternative and renewable energy sources. Out of these the fossil fuels are depleting really fast causing a grave concern over the energy sufficiency which India is targeting. Also, India or even the world has not yet devised efficient methods to harness the full potential of the alternative and renewable energy sources. It might still take a decade to make these energy sources viable and profitable. So for this decade what can sustain the growth? Fossil fuels can but they are the prime reason for Global warming and pollution. So why do we not turn towards nuclear energy which is cleaner and has potential to fuel growth in the coming years? After Homi Bhabha why have we not been able to have a clear vision regarding nuclear energy and implement it in a timely manner?

Yes we lack a pioneering vision –

1. We lack a coherent vision and policy for nuclear energy development.

2. Recently the government has drastically cut the nuclear energy target from 63,000 MWe by 2032 to just about 14,500 MWe by 2024. This itself shows errors in our estimations. Such errors do not show focused vision.

3. Also it is widely known that many projects are suspended or delayed or even cancelled. When there is a vision, there are concerted efforts to address issues and get back on track as soon as possible.

4. Many power plants had their permissions in the 1980's but have started construction in the 2000's. The nuclear power project in Gorakhpur was sanctioned in 1984, but finally broke ground only in 2014!

5. A complete disconnect is seen between scientists and policy-makers. The plan had been to build 16 domestic and 40 foreign reactors but its fumbling on nuclear liability thus depriving India of desperately-needed foreign investment in India's nuclear energy sector as well as energy security.

6. Another important point that highlights incoherence of nuclear strategy and vision is the fact that India signed nuclear deal with US in 2008. In the seven years since the nuclear deal, the only good news the nuclear establishment can boast of is the securing of uranium supplies for the next decade or so. What use is this supply if power plants are not getting constructed and are not operational fast enough?

7. China is the hot destination for nuclear vendors and startups owing to the size of China's orders. China has 25 reactors under construction presently, has plans for 43 more, and is considering proposals for 136 more by 2030. India with such huge population and energy deficit can easily become a destination but due to lack of vision, this deficit and need has not translated into demand. Demand in India is very low and intermittent. A proper strategy and plan can synchronize demands with needs and attract investors and manufacturers.

8. Only nuclear energy can help economy to grow at the rate of eight percent per annum along with being mindful of climate change, air quality, and other environmental concerns.

No not at all –

1. Delays do not mean there is lack of vision.

2. We have a nuclear policy and vision but things don't go always as planned. Many a times we need to compromise on goals as critical issues raise their head. For e.g. technical problems, etc.

3. The liability clause in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act is considered the biggest impediment in the expansion of nuclear energy in India. But why should safety of citizens be an impediment? The clause tries to address safety and liability issues and should not be considered a hurdle. We do not want to repeat Bhopal Gas tragedy and the foreign suppliers of nuclear power plants must understand this. Each government tries to address safety issues of their citizens. The foreign suppliers not ready to negotiate is the problem of theirs.

4. Indian suppliers are exempt from the liability as the reactor and parts they provide will be to specifications and designs of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL). This shows that even if there is stalling from foreign parties, India is domestically making efforts for going ahead with plans to achieve the set targets.

5. We have our targets set. The reason for delay in achieving the targets is the hesitancy of the foreign suppliers to take responsibility for disasters. Taking the responsibility seems logical. In smaller terms, a manufacturer takes responsibility for a bad product. But in nuclear power plants' cases, the stakes are very high and the suppliers must understand the concerns and should be ready to negotiate on the terms of liability.

6. Also, lack of funds sometimes causes delay. There are many pressing concerns like poverty, hunger, health problems, etc. that need resources. Thus sometimes resources meant for nuclear plants get diverted to such programs.

7. Many a times there are problems with land acquisition. People are not ready to live near a nuclear power plant and their fears are warranted. So they oppose building such plants.

8. Also, we want to contribute to sustainable development. Instead of focusing on nuclear energy, we plan to augment our efforts related to alternative and renewable sources of energy like solar energy. Though nuclear energy is cleaner it still has issues of disposal of nuclear wastes.

Bill Gates' TerraPower recently signed a deal with China National Nuclear Corporation to build the first of a new generation of reactors that uses depleted uranium as fuel and generates less waste, is cheaper and safer. Thus we can see that there are solutions. Sure there are concerns regarding nuclear wastes and also regarding nuclear disasters, but same is the case with other power plants too. We are not talking of using nuclear energy forever. But focusing on it currently can meet energy demands in short time and also buys us enough time to improve technology to harness renewable energy sources. We can phase out nuclear power then. Fossil fuels too can buy us time but they are getting depleted real fast and their cost is putting a dent in our purse as well as our environment. A well thought out vision of nuclear energy will serve energy needs as well as defense needs too. Speeding up construction of new nuclear plants and research in disposal of nuclear wastes can help to allay concerns regarding nuclear plants.
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  • RE: Does India lack a nuclear vision? -pawan upadhyay (11/20/15)
  • nuclear vision means what are the path we are following to produce nuclear power plant. we are following correct path ?
    the answer is no because India's and asia's first nuclear reactor was apsara research reactor. it was done under Homi Bhabha in 1951. he died in 1966 in plane crash.
    until now bhabha atomic reasearch center has not done enuogh work of staring project of homi bhabha.

    goverment has not does there in terms creating basic infrastructure because people donot want to live near nuclear plants that the reason our two project also thrown away which is by france and russian uranium power plant.

    the problem is that we have small uranium which is not enough to produce large amount of energy. that's the reason we are dependent on the other country for the uranium.

    the safety of human and nature is also very important to us.
    nuclear liability act is passed in our both parliament but it is also important to gain the trust of the people that any calamity will not happen by these plants.for this our research department has to do work on it.

    former indian president A.P.J abdul kalam said that we should not dependent on other country for energy resource. the THORIUM power plant is the solution for this because we have in good amount of thorium.

    thorium plants are safer and cheaper so goverment should focus on this and promot it.
  • RE: Does India lack a nuclear vision? -Deepa Kaushik (11/20/15)
  • Having a vision and working on the same are two different things. Having a vision is like empty hypothesis. Implementing the same is like creating and proving the theory practically. We have many ideas and plans for various things. What matters is how far could we successfully implement the same into action?

    We cannot deny that we have a nuclear vision. We have one the reason we had a few proposals to build nuclear reactors and get them to action as aenergy source. It was our vision which made us have talks with foreign suppliers and had a few deals as well.

    But when we call a delay of more than a decade in implementing the plans, it is very shameful. We can have ample issues to be tackled. We should have had a clear vision of all the hurdles and then decided a date of implementation of the plans. It is no more than mere carelessness and irresponsibility when the plans get delayed so long.

    When we give a reason that foreign suppliers are reluctant to take the responsibility, can we analyse ourselves for the cause? The depth of corruption in our country has weakened every aspect of the nation. When the reactors fails, it is not necessarily due to the supply of raw materials only. Even the incorrect implementation of the mechanism could cause the disaster. Why would the supplier take complete responsibility?

    We need to be more realistic of our vision. Getting assurance for foreign investment is not amatter of pride. We actually need to clean our nation of the weed called corruption, get ourselves more focussed and then lay out vision for a better future.