ByÂ Swati Poddar:
As the world is becoming technologically advanced, the use of nuclear power for generating electricity is fast gaining momentum. Various expansion plans are being implemented in most nations and India is not far behind in this race.
India like other nations of the world dreams of making nuclear power a significant source of energy since time immemorial, but are we ready?
Since the initiation, the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) has always sought external help from other countries in terms of both mind and matter instead of implementing its own intellectual wealth. The construction of the nuclear power either required an outside brain or in other cases, components of the plant are imported directly from other countries; for e.g. the imported nuclear reactors at the Tarapur plant in India.
With innovations being brought about in France by using fast breeders and other technologies, India is still happy with its three stage nuclear energy development program incepted in 1954 and working on it. Despite the odds and the difficulty in using breeder reactors (its use being denounced by many countries today as not being viable economically and safety wise ), the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) hasn’t come up with any out of the box ideas which might ease the production. This directly reflects on the lack of innovation in India where not one of its nuclear developments is in the true sense “indigenous”.
While France owns 59 nuclear reactors, which contributes to 78 percent of the electricity produced there, India has a long way to go with just 19 nuclear reactors contributing to 4.2 percent of the electricity production. The AEC has continually set up unrealistic goals and extravagant predictions which have very little chance of being fulfilled. On the other hand, even if they are achieved, nuclear power would still contribute to about 8-10 percent of the electricity production by 2020 and 20 percent by 2052. Hence, it is too early for calling nuclear power a major source of energy in India.