Why should India expand its nuclear power programme?Why should India expand its nuclear power programme?
The most important reason why India should expand its nuclear power programme is because India needs more good sources of electricity. This is vital to India's continued economic development.
Demand for electricity in India has been rising rapidly over the last few decades. During that time, India's economy has grown to a huge degree. Modern economies depend heavily on electricity so this translates to a great increase in demand for electricity.
India does not have many other very good ways to meet this rising demand. Much of India's power comes from coal, but this is environmentally hazardous. In addition, India lacks the coal reserves needed to continue to meet rising demand.
Since nuclear energy is relatively "clean," it is a good source of potential energy for India. In addition, India has a long history with nuclear science and engineering and should be able to expand its nuclear capacities. Finally, the civilian nuclear programme has the blessing and support of the EU and the US. This means that India can expand it without risking international sanctions and/or condemnation.
For these reasons, one can argue that India should increase its nuclear power programme.
I think India should expand its nuclear power program as nuclear power is the only source of energy that could satisfy India's rising energy demand in the future.
But India's current plan for expansion is not one that is feasible in the long term. India needs to expand its technological capabilities and incorporate generation IV nuclear power plants that can produce over a hundred times more energy using the same fuel and which also produce much less radioactive waste to deal with. Though this technology needs a lot of work, it is the only solution that would remain viable in the future.
The current plan that relies on expanding low energy yielding nuclear power technology brings with it the responsibility of maintaining hundreds of nuclear power reactors and a large amount of nuclear waste. This is particularly important in light of India being a nation with a very high population density.
I understand the desire India feels for more nuclear power plants, because all the developing countries need more electricity right now and will be needing even more. I hope, however, that all countries can find safe alternatives both to nuclear power and to fossil fuels. Apparently solar energy will not be able to meet all needs for electricity for the foreseeable future, but I hope that India and all other countries will continue to try to develop that source as efficiently, effectively, and rapidly as possible. #6's proposal to harness the tides is also an excellent one; I read recently that rapid progress is being made in this area.
We need to be very aware of the current environmental cost that India's industrialisation has cost and continues to cost the world in terms of its massive consumption of fossil fuels. As India now is the world's most populous country and looks to keep on growing, this consumption of energy can only increase as time goes by. Therefore it is exigent that India is able to develop cleaner sources of energy so that it continue its development without making the rest of the world more precarious.
India has a very large population with an expanding economy and more and more consumers for electricity. Their only other option besides nuclear power is coal fired power plants, which would be horrible for the environment and carbon output, affecting climate change in the long run. So nuclear, while not perfect, of course, seems the most responsible way for India to produce the power it needs.
With all of India's ocean shores, it is entirely possible that innovative ocean current energy programs might be the future answer for India's electricity needs. It is being developed by some European Union countries, China, the U.S. and others. When units are ready for commercial energy grids, one hopes India might find it a safe alternative to nuclear production.
People are nervous about India having nuclear power for two reasons. First, it's a very populous country and a lot of people would be affected if there was an accident. Second, it's in a death-lock with Pakistan, and there is a reasonable fear that if India went nuclear it would develop nuclear weapons and an arms race would result.
I think the central question is whether India is organised and modern enough to responsibly maintain a nuclear power program. India already has 20 nuclear reactors and, of course, it has nuclear bombs, but is it developed enough to handle these responsibilities properly? Russia clearly proved that it was not with the travesty at Chernobyl. Even Japan showed that it had not taken its duties seriously with the failures at Fukushima.
Is India ready for the levels of commitment needed for nuclear power? I am not sure.