Why nuclear when India has an ‘ocean’ of energy

If it is right that absolutely nothing can stop an concept whose time has come, it must be real the other way too — nothing can hold back an concept whose time has passed.

Just blow the dust off, you’ll see the composing on the wall: nuclear energy is quickly running out of sand, at least in India. And there is something that is waiting to take its location.

India’s 6,780 MW of nuclear power plants contributed to less than 3% of the country’s electricity generation, which will come down as other sources will produce more.

Perhaps India lost its nuclear game in 1970, when it refused to indication – even if with the best of reasons – the Non Proliferation Treaty, which left the country to bootstrap itself into nuclear energy. Just there never ever was enough strap in the boot to do so.

In the 1950 s, the famous physicist Dr. Homi Bhabha offered the country a roadmap for the development of nuclear energy.

Three-stage program

In the now-famous ‘three-stage nuclear programme’, the roadmap laid out what requires to be done to ultimately usage the nation’s nearly limitless Thorium resources. The very first stage would see the development of a fleet of ‘pressurised heavy water reactors’, which usage scarce Uranium to produce some Plutonium. The second stage would see the setting up of a number of ‘fast breeder reactors’ (FBRs). These FBRs would use a mixture of Plutonium and the reprocessed ‘spent Uranium from the very first phase, to produce energy and more Plutonium (hence ‘breeder’), due to the fact that the Uranium would transmute into Plutonium. Along with, the reactors would transform some of the Thorium into Uranium-233, which can likewise be utilized to produce energy. After 3 -4 years of operation, the FBRs would have actually produced enough Plutonium for use in the ‘third phase’. In this phase, Uranium-233 would be used in specially-designed reactors to produce energy and convert more Thorium into Uranium-233—you can keep including Thorium constantly.

Seventy years down the line, India is still stuck in the very first stage. For the second stage, you requirement the fast breeder reactors. A P rototype Quick Breeder Reactor (PFBR) of 500 MW capability, building of which began method back in 2004, is yet to come on stream.

The problem is apparently anxiety about handling liquid Sodium, used as a coolant. If Sodium comes in contact with water it will take off; and the PFBR is being built on the humid coast of Tamil Nadu. The PFBR has constantly been a task that would go on stream “next year”. The PFBR has to come online, then more FBRs would need to be constructed, they ought to then operate for 30 -40 years, and only then would begin the wished for ‘Thorium cycle’! Nor is much capability coming under the existing, ‘first stage’. The 6,700 MW of plants under building and construction would, some day, add to the existing nuclear capacity of 6,780 MW. The federal government has actually sanctioned another 9,000 MW and there is no understanding when work on them will begin. These are the home-grown plants. Of course, thanks to the popular 2005 ‘Indo-U.S. nuclear deal’, there are prepares for more tasks with imported reactors, however a 2010 Indian ‘nuclear liability’ legislation has afraid the foreigners away. With all this, it is challenging to see India’s nuclear capability going beyond 20,000 MW over the next 2 years.

Now, the concern is, is nuclear energy worth it all?

There have actually been three arguments in favour of nuclear energy: tidy, low-cost and can provide electrical power 24 x7 (base load). Clean it is, assuming that you could take care of the ticklish issue of putting away the highly harmful spent fuel.

But cheap, it no longer is. The average expense of electricity produced by the existing 22 reactors in the nation is around ₹2.80 a kWhr, however the new plants, which cost ₹15-20 crore per MW to set up, will produce energy that can not be offered commercially below at least ₹7 a unit. Nuclear power is pricing itself out of the market. A nuclear power plant takes a decade to come up, who understands where the expense will end up when it starts generation of electrical power?

Nuclear plants can offer the ‘base load’ — they provide a constant stream of electrical power day and night, simply like coal or gas plants. Wind and solar power plants produce energy much more affordable, however their power supply is irregular. With gas not readily available and coal on its way out due to factors of cost and worldwide warming issues, nuclear is in some cases regarded as the saviour. But we wear’t need that saviour any more; there is a now a much better option.

Ocean energy

The seas are literally throbbing with energy. There are at least numerous sources of energy in the seas. One is the bobbing motion of the waters, or ocean swells — you can location a flat surface on the waters, with a mechanical arm attached to it, and it becomes a pump that can be used to drive water or compressed air through a turbine to produce electrical energy. Another is by tapping into tides, which flow during one part of the day and ebb in another. You can generate electricity by transporting the tide and place a series of turbines in its path. One more way is to keep turbines on the sea bed at locations where there is a existing — a river within the sea. Yet another method is to get the waves dash against pistons in, say, a pipe, so as to compress air at the other end. Sea water is dense and heavy, when it moves it can punch hard — and, it never stops moving.

All these approaches have been attempted in pilot plants in numerous parts of the world—Brazil, Denmark, U.K., Korea. There are only 2 business plants in the world—in France and Korea—but then ocean energy has engaged the world’s attention.

For sure, ocean energy is costly today.

India’s Gujarat State Power Corporation had a tie-up with U.K.’s Atlantic Resources for a 50 MW tidal task in the Gulf of Kutch, however the task was offered up after they discovered they could offer the electricity only at ₹13 a kWhr. But then, even solar cost ₹18 a unit in 2009! When technology improves and scale-effect kicks-in, ocean energy will appearance genuine friendly.

Initially, ocean energy would need to be incentivised, as solar was. Where do you discover the cash for the rewards? By paring allowances to the Department of Atomic Energy, which got ₹13,971 crore for 2019 -20.

Also, wind and solar now stand on their own legs and those aids could now be given to ocean energy.


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