Wednesday, September 21, 2011

India's Nuclear Saga

There is a saying in Thirukkural "கனிருப்பக் காய்கவர்ந் தற்று " which means "you chose the worse though you have the good". This seems to be is the case with India's energy crisis.

Tamilnadu, like most other states of India is struggling to cope up with the growing energy demand. The direction of the rulers of the land to solve this problem points to the N-way. It has been a year since my last post, which was about the regular railway mishaps that haunt the middle and lower class citizens of India who cannot afford the rising petrol prices to avail a private transport. Despite the monstrous growth of science and technology, and having failed to even ensure the basic safety of railway lines, they promise the absolute safety of N-reactors.

I see this as "A Bhopal has collaborated with Chernobyl with an updated safety benchmark of Fukushima".

Is this the right way ?

I recently attended a lecture given by a member of scientific advisory committee of Germany, where they have advised Germany to invest in Wind and Solar arena rather than N-arena. Germany has now started shutting down its N-plants with a goal of becoming N-free by 2030. And India has just started to open up new ones (pass that bill whatever it costs).

My Assessment

A single wind mill can produce upto 7 MW power. But the common ones today in India, made by Suzlon produce 2.1 MW, which cost about INR10.5 cr (in retail single unit price, if ordered bulk will be cheaper, perhaps even cheaper if produced by Government itself).

Alright here is the equation. Koodankulam (The largest Indian N-plant, about to begin) = INR13000 cr with a Capacity = 2 GW. For the same price, you can buy 13000/10.5 = 1238 mills which is equivalent to 1238*2.1 = 2.6 GW.

The wind mill technology is growing tremendously. Already the energy cost is cheaper than conventional plants and the N-plants. India is a versatile country, we may have monsoon in Kerala and at the same time have the most drying days in the adjacent Tamilnadu. We have the extremes from the ever snowing Himalayas, to the driest Thar desert, and to the ever raining Chirapunjee. This versatility creates great winds. We have such a huge coast line. The windy season is not uniform at any given place. But the windmills throughout the country can be networked together to have a steady supply of power (This windmill grid was actually suggested by the German scientific advisory board to have it realized by connecting the whole Europe).

I am at the end of my PhD thesis and totally packed up. Despite the volume of work that is burdening my head, it did not prevent me writing this post. I don't know how many are gonna read it, but it makes me feel good for that I have spoken out what has been irking me from long time.


Sanket said...


This is an extremenly enlightening post. The govt's N-Deal never gave me that feeling of comfort. When germany and france are thinking of closing down their N-power plants, why are we putting billions behind N-power?
Wind farms are definitely better as :
1) They create more long term maintenance jobs.
2) Provide better fuel security as they require no fuel but just the wind. N-power plants require India to import raw-material i.e. uranium etc from mostly USA.
3) They are safe and almost disaster free (I need not mention the tremendous risks of a N-power plant)

On the downside, I think they lag on the PLF front i.e. a 2MW turbine does not actually generate 2MW power but generates something like 30% of 2MW (Please correct me if I am wrong). However the fact that no raw material needs to be imported for wind turbines makes good the PLF loss.

Rayees Ahamed said...

Thanks Sanket for commenting immediately within hours of posting (believe me I did not expect it).

Agree with you Sanket, that 2MW is only the design limit and in reality the output is a function of several factors (wind velocity, temperature, atmospheric pressure, Humidity of air, etc.,), therefore can be only like 30% of 2MW. But the technology is improving at a very fast rate. I am optimistic as the demand increases the price tag will drop. Furthermore as I remember, there was a point in that lecture i mentioned in the post, the amount of wind energy that can be harvested is practically limitless. Such a wonderful clean and green energy is available in abundance.

Karthik said...

I agree with the logic. But what has already been done cant be undone. So, let the Govt continue its Kudankulam plant but yes, in future, they can think of more power through wind.

Rayees Ahamed said...

Hi Karthik,

Agreed, we are in a desperate need for power, it really doesn't matter whatsoever the consequences might be.

A possible solution I believe is that, we shall bring young minds together and work for a local solution of power crisis i.e., Micro power plants with and without renewable energy.

Let us not expect from the Government, lets do it ourselves.

Yayathy said...

If the government care abut the public instead of their pocket, surely we would have had a better place to live in.

Kudangulam is for EGO and not for people.