“Several countries have resolved to scrap n-plants''

Even as India debates the pros and cons of the Kudankulam nuclear power project, several developed countries have already resolved to scrap their nuclear plants, experts at an energy conclave said on Monday.

Addressing the 14th regional conclave of the Madras Management Association (MMA) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) on “Energy as a factor of sustainable development”, Friedbert Pfluger, Director, European Centre for Energy and Resource Security, King's College, London, said while each country had the right to decide its course to meet energy demand, India should weigh over its options and opt for an alternative source if there was one.

In his special address, Mr. Pfluger pointed out that post-Fukushima, many countries were having second thoughts on tapping nuclear energy. Germany, which can no longer advocate nuclear energy as a responsible choice is phasing out nuclear plants, Belgium is targeting shutting down seven reactors by 2015 and even France which relies on nuclear power for 70 per cent of its energy requirements is debating the viability of the nuclear option.

According to Mr. Pfluger, the debate on climate change should include the greening of fossils as the world would continue to heavily depend on perishable fuel sources for many more decades to come.

Pointing to projections that even by 2030, 79 per cent of the world's energy requirements would still be met by fossil fuels – oil, natural gas and coal – he said greening of perishable resources had to involve ramping up efficiency of plants and lowering emissions of Carbon dioxide through the advocacy of the cleaner of the existing choices. Stefan Weckbach, Consul General of the Republic of Germany in Chennai, said while Germany has been committed to phase out nuclear energy from its power sector, the Fukushima disaster has accelerated the pursuit of the 2022 deadline for phasing out nuclear plants.

Pointing out that there had long been a consensus among the German Government, Parliament and society that nuclear energy should be phased out, he said that Fukushima had now led to awareness about the risks associated with the use of natural resources for economic purposes.

Many studies have shown that it is possible to restructure the power sector without nuclear energy and still open up opportunities and economic advantages in the long run, Mr. Weckbach said.

Germany plans to offset the percentage of power generation from nuclear energy through newer and more efficient fossil power plants, development of renewable resources and their progressive integration with the market and increase in energy efficiency. “Our aim is to increase the percentage of renewable energy from 17 per cent 35 per cent by 2020,” he said.

In his key-note address, Swaminathan Krishnamurthy, Associate Director, advisory services, Ernst & Young, said India's strategy for energy security should involve ramping up the power generated from renewable resources, energy efficiency improvement and putting “a ceiling on desire” (consumption) at the individual level to bring down the carbon footprint. Beatrice Gorawantschy, Resident Representative to India, KAS, Ravi Viswanathan, MMA president and Group Captain R. Vijayakumar, executive director also spoke.