|Different energy forecasting agencies provide different scenarios on the likely increase in energy consumption in the coming decades. But, all of them predict that future economic growth crucially depends on the long-term availability of energy in increasing quantities from sources that are accessible, easily available, and environmental friendly. High oil and natural gas prices and increasing public acceptance of the threat of climate change have spurred a new interest in nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuel. India�s conventional resources are far from being adequate to achieve the targeted mission of �Power for All� by 2012. At present, among available energy, apart from coal and hydro, nuclear energy is the only attractive alternative which can fill the increasing gap between demand and supply (for India�s energy resource position see table below). Why nuclear power? First- an alternative to future fossil fuel, second- cost-effective option, third- environmentally sustainable and reliable energy source, fourth- it provides secure fuel supply or a fair amount of stability; and finally- is inevitable for long term energy security with new technological developments and substantial improvement in safety performance.
INDIA�S ENERGY RESOURCE POSITION
Assumptions for potential calculation in above Table: For coal, oil and gas: Complete source is used for electricity generation with thermal efficiency, h = 30% and calorific value for coal = 5000 kcal/kg, oil = 10,200 kcal/kg and gas = 9150 kcal/m3. For nuclear fuel: Fuel burn up in PHWRs = 6700 MWD per tonne and h = 29%. FBRs can use 60% uranium with c = 42%. Breeders can use 60% thorium with h = 42%.
Source: R. B. Grover, �Nuclear Energy: Emerging Trends�, Current Science, Vol. 78, No. 10, May 25, 2000, p. 1194)
There are currently 442 nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries. They total about 370 gigawatts of generating capacity, and they supply about 16 per cent of world�s electricity. This percentage has been roughly stable since 1986, indicating that nuclear power has grown at about the same rate as total global electricity for the past twenty years. With an experience of half a decade in the field of nuclear technology, India, is the only developing country that has demonstrated its capability to design, build, operate and maintain nuclear power plants and produce the required nuclear fuel and special materials. At the same time, the country is an emerging leader in the development of reactor and associated fuel cycle technologies for Thorium utilization. A 30 KW(Th) research reactor KAMINI has become operational and is perhaps, one of its only kind in the world currently operation with uranium-233 based nuclear fuel. Looking all these, it is in India�s interest to develop nuclear energy. More importantly, international environment is also favourable and India must avail this opportunity to gain maximum from international community to ensure energy security and enhance its national interest.
|RAJEEV RANJAN CHATURVEDY