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  • National
    Nuclear energy an inevitable option for India: R. Chidambaram

    Bangalore (PTI): Affirming that Nuclear energy is an "inevitable option" to meet India's rapid growth in future, a top government official said the country's capacity to produce nuclear power could go up to two lakh MW by 2050 but much would depend on how quickly India clears "proliferation misconceptions."

    Speaking at a China-India-US science, technology and innovation workshop hereon Tuesday night, Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to Government, said installed capacity of nuclear energy is projected to go up to 20,000 MW by the year 2020.

    "Then (after 2020) of course it (nuclear power capacity) would grow very rapidly with more and more fast breeder reactors being introduced in the system. It can grow to as much as 200,000 MW by the year 2050," he said.

    But added that "it will depend upon how international situation changes."

    "It depends on how quickly proliferation misconceptions are removed from the system," he said without directly referring to the Indo-US nuclear deal. But at the same time, he said India needs the US in the short-term while the US needs India in the long-term. He, however, did not elaborate.

    He said nuclear power is now recognised universally as an important mitigating technology in the context of climate change.

    Chidambaram expressed the view that "there is not enough fossil fuel in the world" and said its depletion is reflected in the "ridiculous" (high) prices of crude partly fuelled by speculation. In this context, nuclear energy becomes an inevitable option.

    He said hydro electric projects inevitably displace people, while renewables were good but delivers only small packets of energy.

    "If you have to grow big, you have to go thermal, nuclear or hydro. That's why nuclear becomes an inevitable option to satisfy the future needs of India," he stressed.

    If one has to grow to a quality of life anywhere near that's prevailing in the developed world, one has to go nuclear in a big way, he said.

    Chidambaram said though cost of building a nuclear plant is 30 per cent more than a coal-based one, the fuelling costs are proportionately lower and so, the cost "balances out" during the life of the plant.

    Nuclear power currently accounts for around 4000 MW of the total 140,000 MW installed electricity generating capacity in the country excluding captive power plants, he said.

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