“I am delighted to participate in this international conference on ‘Recent Developments in Clean and Safe Nuclear Power Generation’, which is being organised as part of the centenary celebrations of the Institution of Engineers (India).
With the Institution of Engineers (India) set to complete 100 years of its existence in 2020, i am told that five years of centenary celebrations have begun in 2015.
The theme and the location are very apt as the Institution of Engineers, Hyderabad is surrounded by many Department of Atomic Energy establishments like Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration & Research, Nuclear Fuel Complex and the Uranium Corporation of India Limited, which are contributing to front end technologies of Nuclear Fuel Cycle.
Talking about the importance of power generation for sustained development to the experts gathered here is like carrying coals to Newcastle. As you all aware, India is witnessing an increasing demand for energy and the consumption is only bound to go up further in the coming decades. It is estimated that India’s energy consumption will grow by 4.2 per annum, the fastest among all major economies by 2040 with fossil fuels meeting 82 per cent of the demand, followed by renewable energy as the second largest source of energy. The enhanced energy consumption is likely to push the country’s share of global energy demand to 11 per cent by 2040 as against 5 per cent in 2016.
Rapid urbanization and industrialisation are among the factors that would push energy demand and consumption.
The generation of different types energy, including nuclear, has to be increased manifold times to ensure sustainable development of the nation and to achieve the international benchmark of per capita energy consumption.
In the wake of global warming and climate change and India’s international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is a stress on increasing the share of nuclear energy in the overall energy mix of the country.
Coming to the development of nuclear energy, India has been pursuing a robust three stage nuclear power programme based on a closed nuclear fuel cycle formulated by the great visionary Dr.Homi J. Bhabha.
At the first International Conference on Nuclear Energy in Geneva in 1955, Dr. Bhabha in his presidential address had said :‘For the full industrialization of the under-developed countries, for the continuation of our civilization and its further development, atomic energy is not merely an aid, it is an absolute necessity. The acquisition by man of the knowledge of how to release and use atomic energy must be recognized as the third epoch of human history.’
Today India is a technology-empowered country in nuclear area as a result of its hard work over the past decades. We are the only country to have a reactor operating on U-233 fuel. India has mastered the PHWR (Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor) technology and has successfully scaled up from 220 MWe to 700 MWe capacity reactors. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is currently operating 22 commercial nuclear reactors with an installed capacity of 6780 MW. The reactor fleet comprises 18 PHWRs, two BWRs and two 1,000 MW VVER reactors at Kudankulam.
India is poised to enter into the second stage of nuclear programme with 500 MWe PFBR (Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor), which is expected to be operational shortly.
Dr. Bhabha had remarked that "no power is as expensive as no power”. This perfectly matches to the present day economic development with nuclear power. Presently, all the developing countries including India seek new energy sources like nuclear, solar, wind to sustain high rates of economic growth. There is now a growing consensus that nuclear power is an important energy source that is clean and cost-effective.
As part of the Civil Nuclear Initiative to allow the resumption of full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the international community several agreements and reciprocal commitments were concluded and we look forward to their full and effective implementation in the coming months and years.
Nuclear power is a cost effective and commercially viable energy resource. One of the cheapest sources of energy being produced in India today is by a nuclear power plant (TAPS-1&2: 92 paisa/unit). Electricity generated by the latest Kudankulam nuclear power unit -1, sells for a little over Rs. 3 per unit, which is very competitive.
The government has established the legal framework for a nuclear industry and an independent regulatory organization AERB is responsible for licensing and regulatory control of nuclear power plants and for enforcing the relevant regulations.
The separation between the responsibilities of the regulatory organization and those of other parties is clear and regulators retain their independence as a safety authority and are protected from undue pressure. This is the reason Indian nuclear power program has a wonderful safety record.
India has an installed nuclear power capacity of 6,780 MW (2016-17), which contributes to over 3% of total electricity generated. Even though the nuclear contribution is not high at this stage, however this lays a solid foundation for the rapid expansion of nuclear power addition through fast breeder reactors and the collaborative projects to install Light Water Reactors (LWRs).
I expect this International conference will provide a platform for deliberations and exchange of views on the growing global energy demand and the need to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel based power generation. Experts gathered here should come out with a roadmap on these aspects as also on developing newer technologies for increasing safety and further reducing the cost of nuclear power generation.
With eminent personalities, scientists, engineers and technocrats having expertise in the field brainstorming on diverse topics, I am confident that the discussions at this international conference will throw new light on a whole gamut of issues relating to the field of nuclear energy. I hope the conference will boost the spirit to work for sustainable growth of nuclear energy in the world.
I wish all the best to the organizers for having a successful Conference.