Jaitapur Nuclear Plant

    0
    481

    Context

    • There is some progress in the Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra with the French company EDF and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) working together to take this project off the ground. 

    About 

    • The Indo-French nuclear agreement was signed in 2008 to build a nuclear power plant in Jaitapur
    • It would be the world’s most powerful nuclear power plant. 
    • There would be six state-of-the-art EPR reactors with an installed capacity of 9.6 GWe that will produce low carbon electricity.
    • It would provide electricity to seven crore households
    • This project will embody the strong partnership between India and France, a commitment to a low carbon future, and will directly benefit Maharashtra with thousands of local jobs.

    Present status of India’s Nuclear Power Generation

    • The share of nuclear power in the total electricity generation in the country is about 3.1% in the year 2020-21. 
    • The first nuclear power reactors built in India were two BWRs at Tarapur, constructed by GE as turnkey projects through Indo-US cooperation. 
    • There are presently 22 reactors with a total capacity of 6780 MW in operation and one reactor, KAPP-3 (700 MW) has been connected to the grid on January 10, 2021. 
      • Ten (10) nuclear power reactors with 8000 MW capacity (including 500 MW PFBR being implemented by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited {BHAVINI}) are under construction. 
      • International Civil Nuclear Cooperation: 
        • After entering into the International Civil Nuclear Cooperation agreement in 2008, India was bestowed with the opportunity of setting up nuclear reactors with international cooperation. 
    • International Cooperation:  
      • Because of its weapons programme, India is outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Due to this, the country was mostly excluded from nuclear plants and material trade, and it hampered the development of civil nuclear energy till 2009.
    • India was allowed access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel from other countries after a waiver was granted by the 48-nation Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) on September 6, 2008
    • Civil nuclear cooperation agreements:
      • India has signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with France, the United States, Russia, Namibia, Canada, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Czech Republic, Australia, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom. A Memorandum of Understanding on civil nuclear cooperation has also been signed with Mongolia. In December 2015, India and Japan exchanged a Memorandum per which both sides confirmed having reached an agreement on an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.

    Pros of Nuclear Energy 

    • There have been three arguments in favour of nuclear energy: clean, cheap and can provide electricity 24×7 (baseload). 
    • Low-carbon footprint 
      • Nuclear energy is the long term source of green energy, which will be required in future to achieve a low-carbon footprint and drive the long-term industrial requirements of the nation. 
    • Clean Energy Source : 
      • The thermal energy from nuclear reactors may also be used to decarbonize other energy-intensive sectors such as transportation – the largest contributor to carbon pollution.
    • Most Reliable Energy Source
      • The operations are performed adopting well laid out procedures by highly qualified, trained and licensed personnel. 
      • Appropriate Personal Protection Equipment and monitoring aids are provided to all the personnel working in the nuclear power plants.

    Cons 

    • High Cost 
      • Building a nuclear power plant can be discouraging for stakeholders.
      • Conventional reactor designs are considered multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects. 
      • High capital costs, licensing and regulatory approvals, coupled with long lead times and construction delays, have also deterred public interest.

     

    •  Strict regulations 
      • Strict regulations on maintenance, staffing levels, operator training, and plant inspections have become a financial burden for the industry.
    • Environmental Concerns : 
      • All nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste materials because each fission event involving nuclei of uranium or plutonium gives rise to radioactive elements called fission products. 
      • Some of these remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Despite decades of research, nuclear waste remains an unavoidable long-term problem for the environment.
    • Safety Concerns : 
      • Nuclear reactors are also capable of catastrophic accidents, as witnessed in Fukushima and Chernobyl. A single nuclear disaster can contaminate large tracts of land with radioactive materials, rendering these areas uninhabitable for decades

    Way Forward 

    • We need to ensure that the most robust levels of nuclear safety, based on IAEA safety standards, are in place at every nuclear power plant in the world.
    • Mass awareness of the societal benefits of nuclear energy will have a cascading effect on its acceptance, especially in rural India, which can catalyse the economic growth of the country.

    Source: TH