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Nuclear power a poor deal for India, despite aggressive marketing by USA, France Russia

India is better advised to put money instead into its abundant solar energy, which will definitely be less expensive and less risky. “Investing in new solar photovoltaic capacity would be a much lower-cost, significantly less environmentally harmful and far more sustainable alternative to the Mithi Virdi and Kovvada projects,”

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Nuclear power costly, inefficientSANKAR RAY | Fri, 12 Aug 2016- , Mumbai , dna Reactors reduced to status of old furniture as no new ones are being made With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barrack Obama, finalising the import of 12 AP1000 nuclear reactors plants – six from the Westinghouse Electric — for Mithi Virdi, Gujarat, and another six from the GE-Hitachi’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor for Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh, nuclear hawks have become super-active. The US Export-Import Bank is about to complete a financing package for the Toshiba Westinghouseproject. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Toshiba Corp’s (6502.T) Westinghouse Electric too confirmed that engineering and site design work would begin shortly. Small wonder, anti–US hawks too have swung into action to nail the very concept of importing nuclear power reactors from the US, arguing that the cost from the US reactors is very high, estimated provisionally at $7.5 million per megawatt in stark contrast to $ 2.9 million of the Russian ones that are installed at Kudankulam.

Prof Sujay Basu, a doyen among energy experts and former — the first too – director, School of Energy Studies, Jadavpur University, expressed his chagrin against import of reactors. “First, the Kudankulam reactors were sold by Russia at distressed price. Second, reactor manufacture, from the very beginning of the new century, ceased to be a profitable business. American nuclear industry is worried for want of buyers and escalation of cost.

France tried to sell one or two reactors to Finland but backed out. Nowhere in the world, except Japan, are new reactors marketable without political lobbying. Energy gap cannot be narrowed by setting up more nuclear plants. In India, the more pressing problem is how to retire several ageing with effective disposal of nuclear hazards.” Indeed, almost all the components of the reactor were manufactured during the 1980s and were rendered surplus due to post-Chernobyl cancellation of over two dozen reactors after the mega-catastrophe in the twilight years of Soviet Union.

V T Padmanabhan, noted analyst and member of the Nuclear Consultancy Group, considered as a crusader for nuclear safety and health effects (genetic and somatic) of ionising radiation, divulged in countercurrents.org about six months ago that the Kudankulam reactor tripped 20 times and was off-grid for 468 days.

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP-1), the first reactor, built jointly by the NPCIL and Russia’s Atomstroyexport (ASE), is the only operating Generation-III pressurised water reactor (VVER-1000) the world over. During the 840 days of its grid connection since 22 October 2013, the reactor worked for 372 days, although this so-called brand new Russian machine, commissioned a year ago, underwent a seven-month-long overhaul since 24 June 2015 and achieved criticality in the afternoon of 21 Jan 2016.

Following a series of experiments, the generator was connected to the grid in the morning of 30 Jan 2016. According to the database of Power Reactor Information systems of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the KKNPP-1 operated for only 4,212 hours in 2014, less than half the time-schedule. Mentioning this, Prof M V Ramana, a nuclear physicist and currently associated with the Programme on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, a good fraction of those operations evidently involved the reactor generate below the corresponding rated power capacity. “In all, the reactor generated less than a third of the electricity that it could have if it had operated at full power, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” Things worsened in the following year. The NPCIL website admitted that between April 2015 and January 2016, the plant had an abysmally load factor of 20 per cent.

There is no denying that the KKNPP-1 is a congenitally sick baby, a junk reactor. Maybe, the sickly state of KKNPP-1, prompted the NDA government (if not an alibi) to opt for the US plants. But in end-March this year, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, which is engaged in research and analysis on financial and economic issues related to energy, in order to quicken the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy, released a report, Bad Choice: The Risks, Costs and Viability of Proposed US Nuclear Reactors in India, which negates the economic viability of Indian plan to build 12 new nuclear-powered plants using untested technology. The lead author of it, IEEFA’s director of resource planning analysis, David Schlissel, stated that these nuclear plants are “first-of-kind” designs by Toshiba-Westinghouse and General Electric-Hitachi planned for the Mithi Virdi and Kovvada complexes, are neither economically nor financially viable.“They would take much longer than expected to build, they would result in higher bills for ratepayers, and, if they are built, they might not work as advertised.”

The IEEFA pointed out that it would take 11 to 15 years to build, if approved, the first new reactors at Mithi Virdi and Kovvada, provided there is no time lag. These reactors can’t start generation for the electric grid before 2029.

Furthermore, stated Schlissel, even if there is zero time-and-cost overruns, “both projects would require massive investment over the next two decades, ranging from Rs 6.3 lakh crores (US $95 billion) to 11.3 lakh crore rupees (US $170 billion).” The IEEFA warned against slowdown in project implementation due to lengthy land-acquisition and complicated nuclear liability issues. India is better advised to put money instead into its abundant solar energy, which will definitely be less expensive and less risky. “Investing in new solar photovoltaic capacity would be a much lower-cost, significantly less environmentally harmful and far more sustainable alternative to the Mithi Virdi and Kovvada projects,” quipped Schlissel…….http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-nuclear-power-costly-inefficient-2244012

August 17, 2016 - Posted by | India, marketing

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