I have posted essays about India's nuclear programs before. Indian has major issues with their supply of electricity with frequent lost of power in major cities and over three hundred million people having no access at all to electricity. The Indian government has been pushing hard to increase nuclear power in India. Prime Minister Modi is pressing the Department of Atomic Energy to triple India's nuclear power output by 2025 from about six gigawatts to around eighteen gigawatts.
The main problem that India faces is the fact the it has very stringent liability laws with respect to industrial accidents including the possibility of suing manufacturers of equipment involved in serious accidents. This has prevented the U.S. and other major nuclear players from being interested in building nuclear reactors in and transferring nuclear technology and materials to India. There is also a concern among other nuclear nations that India may divert imported nuclear technology and fuel intended for civilian use to their military nuclear program because India has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Recently there have been negotiations within India and with potential international nuclear suppliers to deal with these two serious issues.
Last week, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) signed a contact with the French firm, Areva. Areva will be helping India deal with problems at the Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharashtra which is being held up because of costs and liability issues. Areva has also signed a contract with Larse & Tuobro which is an Indian engineering company. There is a plan to have some of the equipment for the Jaitapur project manufactured locally in India.
Last week, Canada announced plans to sell about two hundred and ninety million dollars worth of uranium to India. This will amount to about seven million pounds of uranium over five years. After India used Canadian nuclear technology to build a nuclear bomb, Canada had banned uranium exports to India. Australia had also refused to sell uranium to India but that may be changing as the two countries negotiate.
Because India has little indigenous uranium, it has been exploring the use of thorium as a nuclear fuel. India has abundant reserves of thorium. Supporters of thorium say that it will be more easily controlled and safer. Opponents point out that thorium reactors generate waste that is even more radioactive than the waste from a uranium or MOX reactor and that such reactors could still have major accidents.
It is estimated that building a nuclear power plant in India will be about thirty percent cheaper than building one in the United States. The big question is whether that lower cost will be low enough for nuclear power to be competitive in the Indian energy market. Coal is the most common source of electricity in India but it produces a lot of carbon dioxide. India has been under increasing pressure from the international community to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Supporters of the nuclear push in India point out that the adoption of nuclear power on a large scale in India would certainly reduce their carbon footprint.
However attractive nuclear power might seem to India at the moment, I think that they would be better served by conservation and distributed sustainable alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro. India has a lot of sun, wind and water.
India's nuclear facilities: