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Nuclear energy option inevitable for India, says top scientist

July 09, 2008 15:59 IST

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Nuclear energy is an inevitable option for India as the country's capacity to produce nuclear power could go up to as much as 200,000 MW by the year 2050 with the addition of more fast breeder reactors, a top government official has said.
    
Nuclear power currently accounts for around 4,000 MW of the total 140,000 MW installed electricity generating capacity in the country excluding captive power plants, said R Chidambaram, principal scientific advisor to the Government of India.
   
"The country's  main thrust would be coal-based power in the next 20 years," he said.
    
Installed capacity of nuclear energy is projected to go up to 20,000 MW by the year 2020, Chidambaram told a China-India-US science, technology and innovation workshop in Bengaluru on Tuesday night.
    
"Thereafter it would grow very rapidly with more fast breeder reactors being introduced in the system. The capacity can grow to as much as 200,000 MW by the year 2050," said Chidambaram, who is also a professor at the Department of Atomic Energy, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
    
But Chidambaram hastened to add: "India's nuclear power production capacity going up to 200,000 MW by 2050 depends upon how the international situation changes. It depends on how quickly the proliferation misconceptions are removed from the system."
    
Emphasising that nuclear power is an inevitable option to meet India's rapid growth in future, Chidambaram said the current production would not be able to cater to the surging energy demand.
    
Chidambaram expressed the view that "there is not enough fossil fuel in the world" and said its depletion is reflected in the "ridiculous" (high) prices of crude oil partly fuelled by speculation. In this context, nuclear becomes an inevitable option, he said.
    
Chidambaram said hydro-electric projects inevitably displace people, while renewables were good but delivers only small packets of energy.
     
"If you have to grow big, you have to go thermal, nuclear or hydro. That's why nuclear energy becomes an inevitable option to satisfy the future needs of India," he stressed.
    
If one has to grow to a quality of life anywhere near that's prevailing in the developed world, one has to go nuclear in a big way, he underscored.
    
Chidambaram said though cost of building a nuclear plant is 30 per cent more than a coal-based one, the fuelling costs in nuclear plants are proportionately lower and so, the cost "balances out" during the lifespan of the plant.
    
He said nuclear power is now recognised universally as an important mitigating technology in the context of climate change.
    



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