Shutdown this Misguided Energy Policy
- On March 3, a fire broke out near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine during the course of a military battle that could have triggered a major nuclear disaster.
- 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered severe accidents after an earthquake and a tsunami hit it. As a result radioactive cores continued producing heat and eventually melted down.
- However, the Indian government in dec. 2021 said that it is planning to build “10 indigenous reactors” and had granted “in principle approval” for 28 additional reactors, including 24 to be imported from France, the U.S. and Russia.
Given the post-Fukushima global and national trends in the nuclear industry, such a policy seems misguided. How?
- Nuclear power is not an economical source of electricity: nuclear power plants are capital intensive and recent nuclear builds have suffered major cost overruns.
- Renewable-energy technologies have become cheaper: The cost of for solar power, and solar-wind hybrid project was ₹2.14 per unit and ₹2.34 per unit respectively whereas power from the EPRs at Jaitapur was at least ₹ 15 per unit excluding transmission costs.
- Global Nuclear Energy Share is declining: In contrast to India’s policy projection, the world’s nuclear power share in total electricity has declined from 17.5% in 1996 to just 10% in 2020.
- Unviable Imports: even after 13 years of the India-U.S. civil nuclear deal, not a single new nuclear plant has been established.
- Safety Concern: For example, the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. In fact, many multinational nuclear suppliers demanded that they be indemnified of liability for the consequence of any accident in India. Therefore, India’s liability law was enacted to largely protects them. It means, manufacturers do not really believe in their own claims about how safe their reactors are.
- Protest Against Nuclear Plants: for example, “locals turned against” the Mithivirdi nuclear project after the Fukushima disaster in Gujarat.
- Climate change will increase the risk of nuclear reactor accidents. For example, A wildfire approached the Hanul nuclear power plant in South Korea.
In 2020, the International Energy Agency dubbed solar energy the “new king of electricity”. Therefore, nuclear power is not the right choice to “adapt” to climate change, and to mitigate India’s carbon emissions since it cannot be deployed at the necessary scale. The resources spent on nuclear plants will yield quicker results if they are redirected to renewables.
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