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Updated: September 30, 2009 01:55 IST

‘Big scope for rise in nuclear energy’

Sandeep Dikshit
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei at the International Conference on ‘Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy-2009’ in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei at the International Conference on ‘Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy-2009’ in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has forecast a sharp spike up in energy through the nuclear route by 2050 if a three-stage strategy proves to be successful.

Inaugurating an international conference on peaceful use of atomic energy here on Tuesday, Dr. Singh said he saw a positive atmosphere in the move towards a universal non-proliferation regime, but regretted inaction on the Indian plan for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

If India could manage its nuclear programme “well,” energy generation through atomic power alone could “potentially” generate 4,70,000 MW of electricity after four decades. This would not only sharply reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels but also contribute to global efforts to combat climate change, said Dr. Singh.

In case India mastered the three-stage nuclear programme, the Prime Minister’s projection means that nuclear energy could account for 40 per cent of the estimated total power generation by 2050. This is slightly less than the 50 per cent and 6,00,000–7,00,000 MW predicted by Department of Atomic Energy Secretary Anil Kakodkar last month. Nuclear energy accounts now for just 2% of the total power generation.

India has gained experience in the first stage of the three-stage strategy and is now involved in the second stage that involves the setting up of fast breeder reactors (FBRs), reprocessing and plutonium based fuel fabrication plants. An FBR is coming up at Kalpakkam, which may generate power in two years, and a facility for reprocessing has been installed. The third stage will include systems based on thorium, with which the country is well endowed.

On disarmament, Dr. Singh recalled India’s pending proposal for a convention to completely eliminate nuclear weapons and regretted that the world had been unsuccessful in preventing proliferation. There should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory non-proliferation to achieve this aim, he pointed out.

There appeared to be growing international acceptance for this viewpoint and India felt encouraged by some positive signs such as United States President Barack Obama’s willingness to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the American national security strategy.

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