Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said nuclear energy offers potential, but the government will remain “cautious” about tapping it for power generation.
Speaking at the India Economic Summit on Friday, Mr. Goyal reiterated the government’s aim to provide 24x7 power supply to all citizens by 2019, adding that the sector is likely to attract investment of about USD 250 billion in the next 4-5 years.
On nuclear energy, Mr.Goyal pointed out that the US and many European nations have stopped setting up nuclear plants. “This government would like to be cautious so that we are not saddled with something only under the garb of clean energy or alternate energy; something which the West has discarded and is sought to be brought to India,” he said.
Asked about the logjam that has emerged due to the Nuclear Liability Law, the minister said, “Nuclear has potential and opportunities for India. This government is open to all options... in nuclear, we are seized of the problem and we are already trying to see how we can address nuclear liability restrictions.”
He also pointed out that as yet there is no estimate on the life-cycle costs of nuclear power right up to de-commissioning stage.
Mr. Goyal’s observations assume significance because so far countries promised contracts for nuclear reactors had been pressurising India to change its nuclear liability law.
The US, France and, to a lesser extent, Russia are upset because nothing has moved since 2008 when then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured 10,000 MW of reactors to two US companies, six reactors to French company Areva and up to 16 plants by Russia’s Atomstroyexport.
The commitment was in exchange for ending India’s isolation from the civil nuclear commerce mainstream after the first nuclear explosion in 1974. As a result, the US along with France and Russian helped India secure an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.
Only Russia has set up two reactors at Kudankulam but they were contracted when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister. In addition South Korea is keen on selling nuclear reactors in India. Each reactor of over 1,000 MW capacity costs between USD 8-10 billion.
Meanwhile, stating that the demand for power in the country will double to two trillion units in five years, Mr. Goyal said efforts are being made to increase coal production, strengthen electricity transmission network, get gas-based power plants back on stream and improve the bankability of projects in the power sector.
Renewable energy was another thrust area and measures were being taken to ensure that solar power generation would touch 100 GW by 2019. The government also expects to nearly double the installed wind generation capacity to more than 40,000 MW by 2019.
LIVE: India Economic Summit organised by the WEF
Also read : >“PSUs’ sale, labour reforms coming”