Nuclear Energy and Energy Security
- Energy security means consistent availability of sufficient energy in various forms at affordable prices. When a country moves ahead on the path of development, it is necessary to utilize every energy resource available in the country.
- Currently, nuclear energy makes up about 3% of India’s energy sources
Advantages of Nuclear Energy:
- Least carbon footprint (lesser than renewable energy)
- The threat of climate change and environmental pollution are likely to constraint the use of fossil fuels
- Cost of nuclear power
- The cost of nuclear power plants is pretty competitive to other fossil versions
- Quantity of waste generated is also very less
- Potential of self sufficiency
- India has huge reserves of thorium which if properly utilized will reduce the dependency of India on foreign country
- Depleting fossil fuels and import dependency: India is currently drawing around 63% of its total energy from thermal sources. A significant part of this is imported.
- Limitations of Renewable Energy
- Renewable energy are subject to vagaries of weather; they are land intensive; dependence on import technology; energy storage handicaps;
- Renewable energy is inevitable and nuclear option should be retained as insurance.
- Safety concerns in light of recent disasters
- Nuclear waste disposal is a big concern
- India still doesn’t have a credible waste disposal policy.
- Potential of developing nuclear weapons
- Security concerns
- Nuclear power plants can be favorite targets for terrorist If this happens it may cause irreversible damage to people living in the region and the ecosystem.
- India is dependent on other countries both for raw material and technology
- Our future potentially depends on third stage of nuclear program.
- Ecological concerns
- Nuclear plants are generally set near the coast as it requires a lot of water.
- It is going to put pressure on coastline as India’s western coastline is home to fragile ecology of western Ghats.
- Long gestation period
- Till now only more than 20 plants are operational. There are long gestation periods which increases the cost of plants significantly.
- More safeguards -> more costly
- Post Fukushima disaster, the cost of per unit energy has gone up. This has led to concerns regarding the cost viability of nuclear power plants.
- As we know that India’s total energy demand is expected to cross 800 GW by 2032, it is very important to utilize all possible options available and nuclear energy is one of the most important of those options.
- We need to develop a fledging domestic nuclear industry which will reduce our dependence as well as help us in reducing the gestation period of the plants.
- In light of the limitation’s association with nuclear energy, stress should be laid on cautious development, safety precautions in operation and disposal of wastes. But development of nuclear energy can’t be stonewalled in the light of such concerns.