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Determined opposition to nuclear expansion in India’s iconic tiger reserve

October 21, 2019 Posted by | India, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

India keeps increasing its nuclear weaponry – aimed at Pakistan and China

India’s Nuclear Weapons Arsenal Keeps Getting Bigger and Bigger, Michael Peck, The National Interest  October 20, 2019   
Key Point: India has its nukes pointed at China and Pakistan, two other nuclear powers.

“India is estimated to have produced enough military plutonium for 150 to 200 nuclear warheads, but has likely produced only 130 to 140,” according to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. “Nonetheless, additional plutonium will be required to produce warheads for missiles now under development, and India is reportedly building several new plutonium production facilities.”

In addition, “India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, with at least five new weapon systems now under development to complement or replace existing nuclear-capable aircraft, land-based delivery systems, and sea-based systems.”……

October 21, 2019 Posted by | India, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Continued strong public opposition to nuclear power in India

The Biggest Hurdle In India’s Nuclear Energy Push Oil By Ag Metal Miner – Oct 05, 2019,  Nuclear energy is, for now, playing a minuscule role in India’s energy story, contributing to about 2 percent of the country’s electricity needs.  ndia is looking at adding another 5.4 GW to the nuclear power plants in the next decade, adding to the current total output of 6.7 GW.But new nuclear plants have been opposed by the local populace in almost every part of the country where they have been proposed to be set up.

Now, an in-principle approval given by the Indian government to initiate exploratory mining for more uranium across the two southern provinces of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has locals up in arms.

The location also includes a nature reserve not only rich in flora and fauna, but also with a large tiger population. The technical go-ahead was given a few months back for Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) to begin exploration for uranium, but an earlier protest led to a temporary pause in the process.

Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of uranium in India. Tummalapalle village, located in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, is considered to have one of the largest uranium reserves in the world.

Next to the mine there is a processing plant that converts the uranium ore into sodium diuranate for use in nuclear power plants. Over the years, local farmers and environmentalists have alleged that it had led to the contamination of soil and groundwater, in addition to the destruction of water bodies.

A rethink by the government to go ahead with the fresh exploration has once again raised the hackles of environmentalists in India, who argue that whatever the procedure used to extract uranium, the wholesale mining for uranium would produce large amounts of radioactive waste that would pollute a major river nearby (as well as the surrounding areas).

They claim even if the waste is treated before disposal, uranium mining can still lead to the contamination of water and soil, eventually harming the flora and fauna of the region.

Officials of the Atomic Minerals Directorate tried to take samples after drilling a bore well for exploration and research, but were prevented by villagers, according to the News Minute.

The villagers have also been joined by opposition parties in the protests.

India’s nuclear plants are controlled by Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), a state-owned corporation. India currently has seven nuclear power plants, but there are plans to add more.

But toward that goal, the government faces an uphill task……….

October 12, 2019 Posted by | India, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

India and Pakistan sliding toward potential nuclear war

Kashmir crackdown: A warning of nuclear war between India and Pakistan, Axios, Dave Lawler  $ Oct 19, India and Pakistan are sliding toward potential nuclear war, according to the president of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. The warning comes as Pakistan attempts to rally global outrage against its neighbor and rival.

Catch up quick: On Aug. 5, India revoked the constitutional autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir — the state it controls within the disputed Himalayan territory — while instituting a communications blackout and a curfew enforced by hundreds of thousands of troops.

  • Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir, partially control it and have gone to war to defend their claims. The sudden move to fundamentally change the status of Indian-controlled Kashmir enraged Pakistan.
  • Where things stand: Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center tells Axios that while conditions vary across the state, “you still have a lockdown in effect, you still have a communications blackout in effect and you still have a number of people detained, including local political leaders.”

Masood Khan, the president of Azad Kashmir and a longtime Pakistani diplomat, told Axios this week in Washington that India’s actions constitute a “declaration of war,” not just against the local population but also against Pakistan.

  • He echoed claims by Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, that there will be “massacres” of civilians once the lockdown is lifted. But he went a step further, warning the ensuing escalation could result in a nuclear exchange.

The other side: Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar last week said the special status of Jammu and Kashmir — India’s only Muslim-majority state — “was meant as a bridge that became a barrier.”

  • He argued that the state’s autonomy cut it off economically and politically, limiting development and thus spurring alienation and separatism.
  • Jaishankar accused Pakistan of exacerbating that separatism by creating “an entire industry of terrorism for dealing with the Kashmir issue.”
  • As for the lockdown, Jaishankar said he’d rather Kashmiris go without internet than lose their lives in potential unrest.

While Jaishankar downplayed the severity of the lockdown and insisted it was being gradually loosened, Masood Khan accused India of “brutalizing” Kashmiris.

  • He predicted “asymmetric resistance” from the local population and warned that many on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC) were anxious to join the fight.
  • Khan said the government had “no intention” of sending fighters across the LoC, but warned that the anger would be “difficult to control.” He said direct intervention by the Pakistani military could also not be ruled out.

The big picture: Pakistan is attempting to focus the eyes of the world on Kashmir in part by framing it not just as a human rights issue, Kugelman says, but also a global security threat………

October 5, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Tensions between India and Pakistan, as India contemplates abandoning its No First Use policy on nuclear weapons

August 31, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kashmir – a “nuclear flashpoint”?

Kashmir a nuclear flashpoint: Pakistan army spokesman Asif Ghafoor

  • Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said India could review its nuclear no first use policy
  • The UN Security Council on Friday said India and Pakistan should sort out their differences bilaterallyNew Delhi: Pakistan army spokesman Asif Ghafoor on Saturday described Kashmir as a “nuclear flashpoint”, a day after defence minister Rajnath Singh said India could review its nuclear no first use policy.

    Ghafoor’s comment, quoted by news reports, could be seen as another attempt by Pakistan to internationalise the Kashmir dispute between the two countries and invite offers of mediation. Western nations have always been wary of tensions flaring up between the two countries that have nuclear weapons.

    Ghafoor’s comments also come after the UN Security Council on Friday said India and Pakistan should sort out their differences bilaterally after closed-door consultations. This came after China sought the meeting on Pakistan’s behalf after India revoked a provision in its constitution giving special status to Kashmir.

    In his remarks on Saturday, Ghafoor also said Pakistan was ready to repulse any Indian attack, the news reports said.

    On Friday, during a visit to Pokhran, defence minister Rajnath Singh said, “Till today, our nuclear policy is ‘No First Use’. What happens in future depends on the circumstances,” media reports said quoting the minister who was at an event in Pokhran, the site of India’s nuclear tests in 1998.

    The comments followed heightened tensions between India and Pakistan after the Indian government revoked Article 370that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan had condemned the move.

    In a tweet, Rajnath Singh added, “Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atal Ji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’. India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances.”

August 19, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

Implications for India if it revokes its No First Use nuclear weapons policy

Nuclear rethink: A change in India’s nuclear doctrine has implications on cost & war strategy

A nuclear doctrine states how a nuclear weapon state would employ its nuclear weapons both during peace and war. Economic Times ET Bureau|, Aug 17, 2019,

“……..  revoking the NFU would have its own costs. First, India’s image as a responsible nuclear power is central to its nuclear diplomacy. Nuclear restraint has allowed New Delhi to get accepted in the global mainstream. From being a nuclear pariah for most of the Cold War, within a decade of Pokhran 2, it has been accepted in the global nuclear order. It is now a member of most of the technology denial regimes such as the Missile Technology Control regime and the Wassenaar Arrangement. It is also actively pursuing full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Revoking the ‘no first use’ pledge would harm India’s nuclear image worldwide.

Parting away with NFU would also be costly otherwise. A purely retaliatory nuclear use is easier to operationalize. Nuclear preemption is a costly policy as it requires massive investment not only in weapons and delivery systems but also intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) infrastructure. The latest estimates of India’s nuclear weapons by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists point to a small arsenal of 130-150 nuclear warheads even though it has enough militarygrade plutonium to produce 200 warheads.

In fact, when compared with the estimates a decade earlier of 70 nuclear warheads, there has only been a modest increase in India’s nuclear inventory. If India does opt for first use of nuclear weapons and given that it has two nuclear adversaries, it would require a far bigger inventory of nuclear weapons particularly as eliminating adversaries’ nuclear capabilities would require targeting of its nuclear assets involving multiple warheads.  The controversy around the supposed low yield of its Hydrogen weapon test in 1998 further complicates this already precarious calculation.

Similarly, first use of nuclear weapons would require a massive increase in India’s nuclear delivery capabilities. There is yet no evidence suggesting that India’s missile production has increased dramatically in recent times. Moreover, India is yet to induct the Multiple Reentry Vehicle (MRV) technology in its missiles, which is fundamental to eliminating hardened nuclear targets. Finally, India’s ISR capabilities would have to be augmented to such a level where India is confident of taking out most of its adversary’s arsenal. According to a senior officer who had served in the Strategic Forces command, this is nearly an “impossible task”. Finally, India would have to alter significantly its nuclear alerting routine. India’s operational plans for its nuclear forces involve a four-stage process.  Nuclear alerting would start at the first hints of a crisis where decision-makers foresee possible military escalation. This would entail assembly of nuclear warheads and trigger mechanisms into nuclear weapons. The second stage involves dispersal of weapons and delivery systems to pre-determined launch positions. The third stage would involve mating of weapons with delivery platforms.

The last and final stage devolves the control of nuclear weapons from the scientific enclave to the military for their eventual use. Canisterization of missiles has combined the dispersal and mating of weapons into a single step, cutting down the effort required for achieving operational readiness. Even then, this model does not support first use of nuclear weapons as it gives ample warning to the adversary of India’s intentions. There is certainly a need for a reappraisal of India’s nuclear doctrine.

All doctrines need periodic reviews and India’s case is no exception. Given how rapidly India’s strategic environment is evolving, it is imperative to think clearly about all matters strategic. But if Indian policymakers do indeed feel the need to review the nation’s nuclear doctrine, they should be cognizant of the costs involved in so doing. A sound policy debate can only ensue if the costs and benefits of a purported policy shift are discussed and debated widely.

August 19, 2019 Posted by | depleted uranium, India, politics | Leave a comment

India ponders changing its “no first use” nuclear weapons policy

India hints at changing ‘no first use’ nuclear policy  Channel News Asia,    NEW DELHI: India’s defence minister hinted on Friday (Aug 16) that New Delhi might change its “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons, amid heightened tensions with fellow atomic power Pakistan.

India committed in 1999 to not being the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict. Among India’s neighbours China has a similar doctrine but arch rival Pakistan does not.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made the comment on Twitter after visiting Pokhran, the site of India’s successful nuclear tests in 1998 under then prime minister Atal Vajpayee.

“Pokhran is the area which witnessed (Vajpayee’s) firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’ (NFU),” Singh wrote.

“India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances,” Singh tweeted.

The statement comes as tensions rise with Pakistan after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Indian-administered Kashmir of its autonomy, a move sharply condemned by Islamabad……..

Observers said Singh’s statement is the clearest so far with regards to a change in India’s nuclear doctrine.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | India, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India and Pakistan on Hair-Trigger Nuclear Alert Over Kashmir

Hair-Trigger Nuclear Alert Over Kashmir, Common DreamsIndia and Pakistan, where people starve in the streets, waste billions on military spending because of the Kashmir dispute. Now some of India’s extreme Hindu nationalists warn they want to reabsorb Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even Sri Lanka into Mother India.  by Eric Margolis  11 Aug 19

Two of the world’s most important powers, India and Pakistan, are locked into an extremely dangerous confrontation over the bitterly disputed Himalayan mountain state of Kashmir. Both are nuclear armed.

Kashmir has been a flashpoint since Imperial Britain divided India in 1947. India and Pakistan have fought numerous wars and conflicts over majority Muslim Kashmir. China controls a big chunk of northern Kashmir known as Aksai Chin.

In 1949, the UN mandated a referendum to determine if Kashmiris wanted to join Pakistan or India. Not surprisingly, India refused to hold the vote. But there are some Kashmiris who want an independent state, though a majority seek to join Pakistan……

What makes this confrontation so dangerous is that both sides have important tactical and nuclear forces arrayed against one another. These are mostly short/medium-ranged nuclear tipped missiles, and air-delivered nuclear bombs. Strategic nuclear weapons back up these tactical forces. A nuclear exchange, even a limited one, could kill millions, pollute much of Asia’s ground water, and spread radioactive dust around the globe – including to North America. ….

August 12, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pakistan on the brink again, as India abolishes self-rule for Kashmir

Kashmir crisis: Will nuclear-armed Pakistan go to war with India again?  Telegraph UK    

India’s announcement that it will abolish self-rule for Kashmir has been denounced as illegal in Islamabad, with the country’s military warning it will  “go to any extent” to support Kashmiris.

What options does Pakistan have?

Why is there pressure on Pakistan to act?

Kashmir has poisoned relations between India and Pakistan since Independence. Both claim the territory, which is now divided between them by a fortified line of control. They have fought three wars over it…..

August 10, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

Kashmir, nexus of conflict between nuclear antagonists India and Pakistan, faces crackdown, plunges into fear,

Kashmir, nexus of conflict between nuclear antagonists India and Pakistan, faces crackdown, plunges into fear, By India and Pakistan have fought two wars and engaged in countless cross-border military skirmishes over Kashmir.

Now India has plunged the mountainous region into fear by revoking Kashmir’s constitutionally mandated “special privileges.” The federal government in Delhi sent in thousands of troops over the weekend, and Kashmiri political leaders have been put under house arrest. Internet service to the area has been cut off or restricted…..

The crackdown did not come as a surprise: The Delhi government ordered tourists out of the Himalayan region last week, warning of a possible terrorist attack.

Kashmir has been claimed by both Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan — and administered by India — since the two countries won their independence shortly after World War II. Great Britain partitioned its colony on the Indian subcontinent in 1947 before pulling out, sparking widespread violence. “Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act,” the BBC notes, “Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan” — and the region’s maharaja at the time chose India, even though the population is predominantly Muslim. This led to a two-year war between India and Pakistan, with another one erupting in 1965.

In the 1990s, both India and Pakistan successfully tested nuclear weapons and began stockpiling warheads. Various armed separatist outfits have been operating in Kashmir for decades……..

August 6, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

India’s Govt prohibits mining of thorium and other atomic minerals by private entities  

Govt prohibits mining of atomic minerals by private entities July 27, 2019 

Atomic minerals zirconium, monazite and thorium are found in abundance along several beaches of the country

The government has prohibited mining of atomic minerals by private entities and will grant operating rights to only state-run companies to “safeguard” strategic interest of the country, according to a gazette notification issued on Saturday.

Atomic minerals zirconium, monazite and thorium are found in abundance along several beaches of the country.

Zircon have potential applications in the strategic, defence and hi-tech sectors as it contains an important strategic element, called hafnium, which is used in the field of atomic energy.

Monazite is a mineral of thorium, uranium and rare earths and it has a high percentage of neodymium which has several hi-tech applications.

Zirconium, hafnium and thorium are very important strategic elements used in different stages of the country’s nuclear power programme, and since monazite and zircon occur in beach sand minerals, any loss or pilferage of these minerals at any stage of mineral handling or processing “shall affect the larger national interest”, the notification said.

“In offshore areas and their strategic importance, it is imperative that the mineral concessions in offshore areas be brought at par with the onshore areas in their treatment and therefore, in order to safeguard the strategic interest of the nation, it is expedient in larger national interest to prohibit the grant of operating rights in terms of any reconnaissance permit, exploration license or production lease of atomic minerals” in any offshore areas to anyone, except a government owned or controlled company, it stated.

“The central government hereby prohibits grant of operating rights in respect of atomic minerals in any offshore areas in the country…to any person, except the government or a government company or a corporation owned or controlled by the government, under the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002,” it said.

The government also “rescinded” any action taken by it earlier in this regard.

July 29, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, India, RARE EARTHS | Leave a comment

India’s tigers and other endangered species now threatened by uranium mining n Amrabad Tiger Reserve

Digging for uranium in tiger country: Nuclear drive tests India’s commitment to protecting endangered species.  ‘If India’s largest tiger reserves are not sacrosanct then the future … is really bleak’, Independent Adam Withnall, Delhi @adamwithnall  14 July 19, The Amrabad Tiger Reserve, spanning more than 2,800sq km of verdant jungle in India’s southern state of Telangana, is a paradise of biodiversity.

One of the biggest nature reserves in the country, it hosts not just India’s national animal but a range of other endangered species including pangolins, panthers, sloth bears, wild dogs, jungle cats, and spotted and sambar deer.

The Chenchu, one of India’s few remaining protected hunter-gatherer tribes, also count the Amrabad reserve as their ancestral home……..

  • Local activists and forestry officials are now up in arms after the central government in late May gave initial clearance for an exploratory uranium mining project in Amrabad Tiger Reserve, saying the proposal was “of critical importance from a national perspective”. …….
  • At the annual budget presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week, it was announced that custom duties will be waved on all imports of parts for new nuclear power plants.
  • There are currently 22 nuclear reactors operating across India, of which 14 rely on imported uranium. Plans are in place to expand that capacity to 32 reactors, with the additional 10 located at four sites in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. All are targeting completion by 2025.

    At the same time, earlier this year the Indian foreign ministry announced an agreement with the US to establish six American-owned nuclear power plants in India…….

    A joint statement spelled out no further detail, but showed an intent to open up India’s nuclear energy market which, since it began its nuclear arms race with neighbouring Pakistan in 1998, has been cut off from international investment and trade.

  • Amrabad is one of 13 sites that have now received “in-principle” approval for uranium mining projects. The national Forest Advisory Committee gave its assent on 22 May for a proposal to carry out a survey and dig boreholes in areas that include the reserve’s “core” blocks for tiger protection.

    In documents supporting its proposal, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) noted that India’s existing discovered reserves of uranium were “either of low grade or low tonnage or both”, and that finding new sources of high-grade uranium was essential to meet the country’s growing demand…….

  • The department must now submit a detailed proposal that gives exact locations for digging to begin, but the granting of initial approval has alarmed local experts, many of whom submitted reports urging against the project.

    Telangana’s principal chief conservator of forests, PK Jha, told the Indian Express he would not allow anyone to drill inside Amrabad unless express permission was granted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). “We did not allow it till now though the proposal is two or three years old,” he said.

  • Imran Siddiqui, co-founder of the Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society, wrote in a blog post that he and other activists had been successfully fighting off various mining projects in Amrabad for decades.

    He said the combined effects of building roads to bring in mining equipment, the digging itself and the potential for water contamination “seem poised to destroy the ecology of the entire tiger reserve”.

    “If India’s largest tiger reserves are not sacrosanct then the future of the tiger is really bleak in the new India we are making,” he said……..

July 15, 2019 Posted by | environment, India | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear power programme unlikely to progress. Ocean energy is a better way.

The problem is apparently nervousness about handling liquid Sodium, used as a coolant. If Sodium comes in contact with water it will explode; and the PFBR is being built on the humid coast of Tamil Nadu. The PFBR has always been a project that would go on stream “next year”. The PFBR has to come online, then more FBRs would need to be built, they should then operate for 30-40 years, and only then would begin the coveted ‘Thorium cycle’!

Why nuclear when India has an ‘ocean’ of energy,

M. Ramesh – 30 June 19 Though the ‘highly harmful’ source is regarded as saviour on certain counts, the country has a better option under the seas

If it is right that nothing can stop an idea whose time has come, it must be true the other way too — nothing can hold back an idea whose time has passed.

Just blow the dust off, you’ll see the writing on the wall: nuclear energy is fast running out of sand, at least in India. And there is something that is waiting to take its place.

India’s 6,780 MW of nuclear power plants contributed to less than 3% of the country’s electricity generation, which will come down as other sources will generate more.

Perhaps India lost its nuclear game in 1970, when it refused to sign – even if with the best of reasons – the Non Proliferation Treaty, which left the country to bootstrap itself into nuclear energy. Only there never was enough strap in the boot to do so.

In the 1950s, the legendary physicist Dr. Homi Bhabha gave the country a roadmap for the development of nuclear energy.

Three-stage programme

In the now-famous ‘three-stage nuclear programme’, the roadmap laid out what needs to be done to eventually use the country’s almost inexhaustible Thorium resources. The first stage would see the creation of a fleet of ‘pressurised heavy water reactors’, which use scarce Uranium to produce some Plutonium. The second stage would see the setting up of several ‘fast breeder reactors’ (FBRs). These FBRs would use a mixture of Plutonium and the reprocessed ‘spent Uranium from the first stage, to produce energy and more Plutonium (hence ‘breeder’), because the Uranium would transmute into Plutonium. Alongside, the reactors would convert some of the Thorium into Uranium-233, which can also be used to produce energy. After 3-4 decades of operation, the FBRs would have produced enough Plutonium for use in the ‘third stage’. In this stage, Uranium-233 would be used in specially-designed reactors to produce energy and convert more Thorium into Uranium-233 —you can keep adding Thorium endlessly.

Seventy years down the line, India is still stuck in the first stage. For the second stage, you need the fast breeder reactors. A Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) of 500 MW capacity, construction of which began way back in 2004, is yet to come on stream.

The problem is apparently nervousness about handling liquid Sodium, used as a coolant. If Sodium comes in contact with water it will explode; and the PFBR is being built on the humid coast of Tamil Nadu. The PFBR has always been a project that would go on stream “next year”. The PFBR has to come online, then more FBRs would need to be built, they should then operate for 30-40 years, and only then would begin the coveted ‘Thorium cycle’! Nor is much capacity coming under the current, ‘first stage’. The 6,700 MW of plants under construction would, some day, add to the existing nuclear capacity of 6,780 MW. The government has sanctioned another 9,000 MW and there is no knowing when work on them will begin. These are the home-grown plants. Of course, thanks to the famous 2005 ‘Indo-U.S. nuclear deal’, there are plans for more projects with imported reactors, but a 2010 Indian ‘nuclear liability’ legislation has scared the foreigners away. With all this, it is difficult to see India’s nuclear capacity going beyond 20,000 MW over the next two decades.

Now, the question is, is nuclear energy worth it all?

There have been three arguments in favour of nuclear enFor Fergy: clean, cheap and can provide electricity 24×7 (base load). Clean it is, assuming that you could take care of the ticklish issue of putting away the highly harmful spent fuel.

But cheap, it no longer is. The average cost of electricity produced by the existing 22 reactors in the country is around ₹2.80 a kWhr, but the new plants, which cost ₹15-20 crore per MW to set up, will produce energy that cannot be sold commercially below at least ₹7 a unit. Nuclear power is pricing itself out of the market. A nuclear power plant takes a decade to come up, who knows where the cost will end up when it begins generation of electricity?

Nuclear plants can provide the ‘base load’ — they give a steady stream of electricity day and night, just like coal or gas plants. Wind and solar power plants produce energy much cheaper, but their power supply is irregular. With gas not available and coal on its way out due to reasons of cost and global warming concerns, nuclear is sometimes regarded as the saviour. But we don’t need that saviour any more; there is a now a better option.

Ocean energy

The seas are literally throbbing with energy. There are at least several sources of energy in the seas. One is the bobbing motion of the waters, or ocean swells — you can place a flat surface on the waters, with a mechanical arm attached to it, and it becomes a pump that can be used to drive water or compressed air through a turbine to produce electricity. Another is by tapping into tides, which flow during one part of the day and ebb in another. You can generate electricity by channelling the tide and place a series of turbines in its path. One more way is to keep turbines on the sea bed at places where there is a current — a river within the sea. Yet another way is to get the waves dash against pistons in, say, a pipe, so as to compress air at the other end. Sea water is dense and heavy, when it moves it can punch hard — and, it never stops moving.

All these methods have been tried in pilot plants in several parts of the world—Brazil, Denmark, U.K., Korea. There are only two commercial plants in the world—in France and Korea—but then ocean energy has engaged the world’s attention.

For sure, ocean energy is costly today.

India’s Gujarat State Power Corporation had a tie-up with U.K.’s Atlantic Resources for a 50 MW tidal project in the Gulf of Kutch, but the project was given up after they discovered they could sell the electricity only at ₹13 a kWhr. But then, even solar cost ₹18 a unit in 2009! When technology improves and scale-effect kicks-in, ocean energy will look real friendly.

Initially, ocean energy would need to be incentivised, as solar was. Where do you find the money for the incentives? By paring allocations to the Department of Atomic Energy, which got ₹13,971 crore for 2019-20.

Also, wind and solar now stand on their own legs and those subsidies could now be given to ocean energy.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | India, Reference, renewable, technology, thorium | Leave a comment

Why India’s Hypersonic Missile Could Trigger A Nuclear War

New missile, new threats? National Interest,  by Michael Peck, 21  June  19  1ndia’s test of a hypersonic missile signifies more than the advance of Indian weapons technology.

It also is one step closer to triggering a nuclear war with Pakistan.

Ironically, the first launch of the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle, or HSTDV, was a failure. The HSTDV, which is shaped almost like a sailing ship, is supposed to be a testbed for developing future hypersonic weapons such as cruise missiles. It is launched atop an Agni 1, an Indian ballistic missile…….

While that doesn’t necessarily mean the HSTDV has a problem, it’s not good news for India’s strategic nuclear deterrent. “The Agni 1 is a nuclear-capable missile that is in service with the strategic forces and has been successfully tested several times in the past,” noted the Economic Times. “Its failure to reach the desired altitude is a reason for concern and is being studied.”

Yet unproven or not, the existence of an Indian hypersonic project is an ominous step for India’s cold war with its neighbor Pakistan. Hypersonic missiles—defined as rockets with a velocity of at least Mach 5, though Russia and America are developing Mach 20 weapons—are dangerous because of their speed. Though the weapons have yet to be tested in combat, the U.S. military is concerned that Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons may travel so fast that they can’t be intercepted. At the tactical level, this means that aircraft carriers and air bases could be destroyed by a salvo of missiles.

But on the strategic level, hypersonic weapons are truly frightening. A hypersonic missile can deliver a nuclear warhead more quickly than a ballistic missile. Or, a hypersonic missile armed with a conventional warhead might be able to destroy an opponent’s nuclear missiles in a first strike, but without the attacker having to resort to nuclear weapons.

Whether or not such a strike would be successful, or whether anyone would be confident enough to risk a nuclear exchange by using hypersonics, isn’t the point. Unlike the United States versus Russia and China, whose homelands are separated by thousands of miles of ocean, the distance between New Delhi and Islamabad is just over 400 miles. A Mach 5 or 10 weapon missile launched from India or Pakistan could hit its target in minutes (Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glider reportedly has a speed of Mach 20, with the United States working on a weapon equally as fast).

Knowing that India has hypersonic weapons could make Pakistan feel trapped in a “use them or lose them” mindset regarding its nuclear weapons.

June 22, 2019 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment