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Nuclear power expansion: Is AEC's new, 'unrealistic' target fully backed by PMO?

By Shankar Sharma* 

Another unrealistic and tall claim by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has been announced: India is eyeing 100 GW nuclear power by 2047, the AEC chairman AK Mohanty has said.
A few years ago, the dream target for the Indian nuclear establishment was 275,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2050 (as per DAE document of 2008 "A Strategy for the Growth of Electricity in India”). Now this target of 100 GW nuclear power by 2047. And as at the end of February 2024, the actual nuclear power capacity was only 7,480 MWe, which formed only 1.7% of the total power capacity in the country. 
If both these dreams are to be believed, then we should also believe that about 93,000 MW will be added between now and 2047 (in about 23 years), and then another 175,000 MW between 2047 and 2050. And all these in the backdrop of the harsh reality that only about 7,500 MW has been built in the last 50-60 years.
And there is no mention about the action plan or the timeline to achieve the same.
Because of the latest obsession about SMRs (small modular reactors), all the massive additions being dreamt of may have to come from SMRs only, in a large number of locations spread all over the country. A very sad scenario for our communities.
Assuming that such unsubstantiated targets have the full backing of the PMO, the ambitious but unrealistic plan of the Indian nuclear establishment (some may even call such a plan as ludicrous, keeping in view the miniscule additions in the last 2-3 decades) raises many questions from the perspective of the true welfare of our communities for hundreds of years to come. 
AEC chairman AK Mohanty
A dispassionate analysis of various issues involved in announcing such dreams has become urgent and critical, as indicated by strong opposition to setting up of nuclear power plants in different parts of the country. As a welfare society, we should not ignore the concerns of the people; most of them are very legitimate.
We cannot ignore the fact that such frequent and tall claims/ dreams by AEC over the decades seem to have diverted the allocation of our precious but meager resources away from the much benign alternatives such as renewable energy, efficiency improvement and demand side management measures. 
And the most disconcerting fact about the whole advocacy of our nuclear establishment is the dogged approach to it without any substantiation despite multiple concerns and protests by civil society groups. And no one, including the PMO, seems to care about the associated societal level concerns.
Very unfortunate governance approach in a democratic setup!
---
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst

Comments

Though I agree with the author that 100 GW of Nuclear power by 2047 is a tall task and is most likely cannot be achieved; but I strongly oppose the relationship with civil society and their concerns. We already have enough push for renewables and which is a welcome move but without base load ( only Nuclear can give it) energy security will remain the concern. After Fukushima already passive safety systems are in place. Only issue with us as a country is that we keep emotions above logic. We need. To move fast. We already have KAPP 3-4 PHWR proving the indigenously designed 700 MWe.
We have a fleet of PHWR and the additional LWRs are in production progress.
No SMR technology is yet proven and is at least 5 yrs from now.
We should add a new fleet and at the same time keep on adding FBRs so that we are ready to exploit Thorium reserves in Advance Rx by FY50.

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