Yes, I know that the Koodankulam is a hot potato and it is fashionable to decry nuclear power but I believe that a country like India truly needs nuclear power to meet its energy needs. All forms of electricity generation have their own particular hazards and difficulties, but no form of energy is as safe as nuclear energy.
Apart from nuclear power, the other forms of electricity generation that we typically use in India are thermal and hydroelectricity. Currently, India has about 90,000 MW installed capacity for electricity generation, of which more than 70% is produced by coal-based thermal power plants. Hydro-electricity contributes about 25%, and the remaining is mostly from nuclear power plants (NPPs).
Both have their issues. Thermal power generation is not environmentally sensible or sustainable as everyone fossil fuel used for generating energy produces two kilograms of carbon dioxide and obviously creates other forms of pollution. Although hydropower generation does not burn any fuel to produce power and hence does not cause pollution, displacement of people and damage to the environment are two typical problems associated with hydropower projects. Lack of proper compensation and rehabilitation are the typical problems for people affected by such projects.
All this information should be positioned against the fact that nuclear power is far safer than any other form of viable energy generation mechanism currently available. Although widely-talked about and written about, solar and wind power and other such renewable forms of energy - which generate energy from highly diffuse and intermittent sources, are not a workable option to fuel a country’s economy, though they undoubtedly should be used to supplement the national grid and could be used wherever they are found to be viable.
Coming back to Kudankulam, it is estimated that at full capacity, it could make the state of Tamil Nadu self sufficient in terms of power generation, at least in terms of its current needs. Quite wisely then, TheWorld Nuclear Association has stated that India’s government expects atomic power to supply one-fourth of all of its energy needs by the year 2050.
Unfortunately, there is opposition to the construction of nuclear power plants as a lot of our energy paradigms are being adopted from the West, particularly Europe which has already got its basic infrastructure in place and has sparse populations compared to India.
The use of nuclear energy for electricity generation vis-a-vis all these comparative considerations can be considered extremely safe. Every year people die in coal mines digging up coal to generate this widely used fuel for electricity. There are also significant health and environmental impacts arising from fossil fuel use. For every hydro electric power plant built, people are displaced from their home and hearth. Let us be realistic about this issue unless we want India to live by candle light.
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