Why we need nuclear power
Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed an agreement early June with President Vladimir Putin for two more units of nuclear plants at Kudankulam. Earlier, the government announced an agreement with international companies to set up 7,000 MW of nuclear plants for Rs 70,000 crore based on our domestic technology. Its wisdom has been questioned by many commentators.
I have long argued that from a long-term perspective India needs to keep the nuclear power option alive. This is because we are short of oil, gas and even coal. More than 70 per cent of petroleum products, 40 per cent of gas and 20 per cent of coal consumption are based on imports. Our known extractable coal reserves will run out in about 40 years if our coal consumption keeps growing as it has over the past 25 years.
As a result in the report of the expert group on integrated energy policy in 2006 that I chaired, we had argued that for India, from a long-term perspective, renewable energy is inevitable and nuclear option should be retained as an insurance. Thus I had applauded the Bush-Manmohan Singh agreement on nuclear energy. The energy scene has changed dramatically since then and one needs to revisit that conclusion.