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To Clean Energy or not?




India is a nation of almost 1.2 billion people. There is an immense need for resources and infrastructure to sustain the growing population and the booming Indian economy to keep the nation moving forward. India also lacks the basic infrastructure at rural areas to provide the basic necessity like power, roads and water supply. It's common in B-town city to have a structured way of "power-cuts" ranging anywhere from 2 hrs. - 8 hrs. a day in summer! For the longest period of time, India has been dependent on Coal, and its power is more or less generated by Coal energy or fossil fuels. Coal as everyone knows is one of the "old" energy technology responsible for carbon emission and India has always walked a tight line, when it comes to Kyoto Protocol aimed at fighting global warming. India is at a threshold to usher in Nuclear energy with a new proposed nuclear power plant in Jaitapur, Maharashtra. The proposed nuclear power plant is no ordinary plant -- The 5 billion dollars project with a capacity of 9900 MW power project with six reactors,  will be the largest nuclear power generating station in the world. What got me excited was the location of the power plant was the same state that I was born and raised. The decision to move forward with the nuclear power plant and a step away from Coal generated plants - notwithstanding the disaster that hit Japan is the right way forward.


The Land issue

Now with any high profile nuclear power plant, the land comes at a premium. This has been the age old problem in India. Be it the Narmada dam issues in Gujarat or the Enron power plant in Maharashtra or the more recent Tata Car project in West Bengal. Who does the land belong too? Was the land really barren as the government is talking about? These questions are beyond me or for that matter 99.99% of Indian population -- because we all know that, "anything can happen in India". I am not going to dwell in to that. So many times, that the real issues are not tackled and the non-existing issues are focused on. I never understood that if a 5 billion$ is passed by a government, why is there no fund to be allocated for unforeseen circumstances that arises now and then? Why not allocate a 10-25 million$ fund to tackle this issues?

The politics of money

As any new high profiles projects announced that generated buzz -- politics inevitably follows. Now, I try to stay away from politics, especially when the politics is based on power struggle in India. I have learned the hard way, which the more you talk, the more frustrated you get and nothing comes out of it. I distinctly remember the Enron - Dabhol project in Maharashtra where a ruling party was opposed to having a power plant that would create employment and solve the scarcity of resources around that region. That issue became the primary reason for the ruling government to be toppled. The party that opposed it (I am sure monies were exchanged), when coming to power -- granted them permission to start the Enron project. From the inception of the project in 1990 to the production of the plant in 1997-1998, many years were wasted. 900 million$ were spent by Enron to get the project going and I am sure a huge chunk were gone in the delays and re-planning. The power plant was shut after 3 years because it was so red in the balance sheets the day it started the operations, that it never recovered its money. The power plant was later changed name and started its operation 5 years later and again shut down after 3 months because of the supply of key component. After almost 17 years and billion dollars the plant is still struggling to complete all its phases. 

The real Concern

While it's a shame that most project becomes a political and money power struggle, the key issues are never talked about or debated in a civilized manner without flaring the temperatures of everyone involved. The first and the only resort carried out are off violence. This is strange behavior coming from the same country as Mahatma Gandhi. 
If the protesters really are misguided in their tactics by the leaders of parties misleading information about Fukushima catastrophe, then they need to be educated about nuclear power and how grave India's problems are when it comes to resolving energy situation. India cannot just sustain its thirst for energy by investing in renewable energy and polluting fossil fuels. This is also the right time to go back to drawing board on designs to learn from Japan's nuclear disaster and see ways to avoid them and or minimize them. This can be resolved by tackling them head-on with healthy debates on securing India's energy future and our collective safety.

Comments

  1. Je suis d'accord avec toi pour ce qui est de la nécessité pour l'Inde de se lancer dans une entreprise énergétique, mais je pense que les accidents comme ceux que l'on connait, mais également de nombreux incidents nucléaires de proximités (non recensés par la presse) transforment une région belle et florissante en une région fortement à risques. Renseignes toi sur les micros contaminations, elles sont plus mortelles que les accidents nucléaires. Je ne pense pas que ce soit ce que tu souhaites pour ta ville natale, ou des pastilles d'Iode sont distribuées gratuitement et bien souvent sont prises trop tard. Penses également au démontage des centrales, car une centrale n'est pas éternelle, et doit recourir à de nombreuses maintenances, et au bout de 30-40 ans devra être démontée. Actuellement aucun technique de démontage est fiable.
    Tout cela pour dire qu'au lieu d'investir dans des technologies que l'on ne maitrise pas, mieux vaut investir dans les chercheurs qui doivent nous découvrir des méthodes de production d'énergie plus fiables qu'aujourd'hui.
    Comme disait De Gaulle, des chercheurs qui cherchent, on en trouve, des chercheurs qui trouvent, on en cherche !
    Marc

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comments Marc. Appreciate it. Great points from your end. Getting in to renewable energy by means of wind farms and alternate source clean energy takes a long time to implement. India's energy crisis is real grave. There are outages every year for good 4-6 months for more than 8 hours and days at some places. Can't we provide the basic needs of water and utilities to our citizens? Most areas affected depends sorely on agriculture and with no utilities -- it definitely increases the proportion of the problem.
    I wish if there was common ground in setting this goals. I am sure the problems you listed in the comments are true everywhere -- and to be frank - I never thought about it. This problems needs to be addressed and planned.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I couldnt understad what Marc wrote !!.. You may need to put on magnifier which translates it to English.. After all I'm on course to become an english man :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. lol -- Marc wrote it in French. His last line was really good. Just copied his comment and pasted in Google translate..Wait for the post on "Google Translate"..It has got so much better now...In the meantime, here is what Marc wrote.

    "I agree with you regarding the need for India to engage in an energy company, but I think that accidents like those that we know, but also many incidents of nuclear proximity (not identified by the press) turn a beautiful and prosperous region in an area of ​​high risk. Find out about the contamination microphones, they are more deadly than nuclear accidents. I do not think this is what you wish for your hometown or Iodine tablets are distributed freely and often are taken too late. Think also of disassembly plants, because plant is not eternal, and must resort to many now, and after 30-40 years will be removed. Currently no disassembly technique is reliable.
    All that to say that instead of investing in technologies that are not mastered, it is better to invest in research that we must find methods of energy production more reliable than today.
    As De Gaulle said, researchers who seek, we find, the researchers found, we seek!"

    ReplyDelete

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