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Nuclear Tech for Low-Carbon Electricity Production Growth: R Chidambaram Print E-mail
Written by Ganesh   
Thursday, 28 July 2011
New Delhi: "For India to become a ‘developed’ country, the per capita electricity consumption has to increase manifold. Nuclear has to play an important role in this increase as India looks for a low-carbon path for its electricity production growth," said Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India and DAE-Homi Bhabha Professor, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

"India is aiming for an electricity capacity of over a million MW by 2050. Expanded use of nuclear technologies offers immense potential to meet important development needs," he said.

He was delivering his keynote address on ‘Energy Technologies, Energy Securities and Climate Change’ at the Earth Sciences Day Celebration here today.

Explaining three Stage Indian Nuclear Programme, Dr Chidambaram said, “In the first stage, we have Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) which uses natural UO2 fuels and SEU/MOX fuels, the second stage there are Fsat Breeder Reactors(FBRs) which use MOX/MC/ metallic fuel and the third stage uses thorium with TH-U233 closed cycle.

Explaining the Indian Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR-Pu) he said, it is a 300 MWe vertical pressure tube type, boiling light water cooled and heavy water moderated reactor using 233U-Th MOX and Pu-Th MOX fuel. Its Major design objectives are 65% of power from Th. Its several passive features include 3 days grace period, No radiological impact , Passive shutdown system to address insider threat scenarios , Design life of 100 years and coolant channels can be Easily replaceable. This is an innovative Technology demonstrator for the closed thorium fuel cycle.” Closing the nuclear fuel cycle is essential if nuclear is to be a sustainable mitigating technology in the context of the climate change threat. This is in coherence with India’s three-stage nuclear programme, Dr R Chidambaram explained.

Talking about other nuclear options, Dr Chidambaram said Accelerator-driven sub-critical reactor, using the spallation nuclear reaction are there. The second option is Thermonuclear fusion – Magnetic Confinement Fusion (Tokamak) and Inertial Confinement (Laser-Induced) Fusion and the third option is for energy as reactors or for energy amplification and fissile material breeding as hybrids. Referring to Eight Missions outlined in the National Action Plan on Climate Change, he clarified that Nuclear Energy is not in the group of eight missions because the Department of Atomic Energy is itself a Mission – oriented Agency. He disclosed that a new, 9th Mission on Clean Coal (Carbon) Technologies is being considered.

Regarding Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, he said the target capacity of Grid-connected Solar Power Projects by the year 2022=20,000 MW which will be split equally between Photovoltaic and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). He said that BARC has established a 6300 m3/day (6.3 MLD) Nuclear Desalination Demonstration Plant using hybrid Multi-Stage Flash-Reverse Osmosis (MSF-RO) technology integrated to existing PHWR at MAPS (Kalpakkam). It is the largest nuclear desalination plant in the world based on hybrid technology.

Research involves generation of new knowledge and Innovation requires adding economic value to knowledge. The border between Applied and Innovation, when developing cutting-edge technologies, becomes fuzzy. Referring to The Prime Minister’s announcement of the present decade as the ‘Decade of Innovation” and the year 2012-13 as the year of Science, Dr Chidambaram said, research and innovation are strengthened by collaboration, particularly between scientists who have mutual respect. Also any international collaboration is sustainable only if it is mutually beneficial. We need connectivity – both physical and electronic. Today’s India seeks international scientific and technological collaboration on an ‘equal partner’ basis e.g. LHC, ITER.

"To satisfy energy demands and to mitigate the threat of climate change – two of the 21st century’s greatest challenges – there are major opportunities for expansion of nuclear energy in those countries that choose to have it," he added.

Dr Chidambaram said that there should not be any fear related to nuclear energy. Lessons will be learnt from the recent Fukushima accident and more stringent security measures are being taken in the country and all over the world.

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