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Solar Energy Study on India debunks Nuclear Energy’s Propaganda

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Nuclear Energy in India has been facing massive protests with the new nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, facing citizen opposition on a daily basis. The supporters of nuclear power in India have wrongly claimed that solar power takes up too much land and is not enough to supply the energy needs of India. Nuclear Energy (according to the pro-nuclear lobby) is essential despite the current targets meeting only a fraction of India’s needs by 2020 (currently it is around 3-4% of the capacity).

A new study conducted by IISC has debunked this stupid idea (not that it requires expert research considering the millions of empty rooftops). The new study says that India can easily meet all its energy requirements through solar energy. The study says that only 4% of India’s un-cultivable and waste land can meet the total energy needs of 2070. This does not include the rooftops and other sources of renewable energy. Solar Power in India is one the biggest opportunities in the 21st century and no amount of propaganda is going to change it.

Protests, Firing and Killing

The new nuclear power plants that are coming up in India are facing strong protests by local people worried about the potential radioactive fallout due to a nuclear accident. This has become a regular occurrence in which the heavy hand of the state intervenes leading to violence and killings of protestors in police firings. Note protests against companies encroaching on the environment and precious farm land are not limited to nuclear energy but also extend to thermal power plants. Recently protestors were killed by police in Andhra Pradesh as well. The Government has blamed foreign NGOs for fomenting the violence in Kudankulam but the fact is that nuclear power protests are being seen everywhere in India where citizens are not enamored of nuclear power like the country’s PM. In fact even with all the planned expansion of nuclear energy, the contribution of nuclear energy to India’s electricity will still be in the low single digits. Besides the cost of nuclear energy in recent times has risen prohibitively, making nuclear power plants uneconomical in the developed countries where the emphasis on safety is much greater.


India’s energy needs can be met entirely by solar and other renewable sources, says a new study by two professors at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore. Their report published in the journal Current Science may add ammunition to the anti-nuclear agitation inConvinced that sunlight differs from other energy sources in the way it uses the land, the researchers compared the land-use pattern of three primary energy sources – coal, nuclear and hydro – with solar energy.  They then calculated the percentage of India’s land area that would be required to meet the future projected energy demand.

Coal power plants not only transform the land around the facility but also require land for mining coal and its upstream processing, the authors note.  An average dam displaces 31,340 persons and submerges 8,748 hectares of land. The direct land footprint of a nuclear power plant includes power plant area, buffer zone, waste disposal area and the land that goes into mining uranium.

Nuclear Energy Pros and Cons


  1. Reliability – Nuclear Power is a highly reliable form of energy almost as good as other fossil fuel energy forms like coal,gas etc. Nuclear Power Plants except in drastic situations continue to run reliably for the whole day without any changes.
  2. Low Fuel Cost – Large amounts of Nuclear Energy can be produced from the fission on radioactive elements like uranium. The costs of nuclear fuel is relatively very low compared to other energy sources like coal and gas.Also uranium prices currently are quite low making the nuclear electricity price even lower.
  3. Low Electricity Cost – The Electricity produced from Nuclear Power is quite low at around 3-5c/Kwh making it very attractive to construct hydro plants. Nuclear  Plants also  have long lives of between 40-60 years which means that they are extremely profitable once constructed within reasonable costs.
  4. No Greenhouse Gas Emissions/Air Pollution – Nuclear electricity does not produce any GHG emissions or cause air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels unlike coal, oil or gas. This makes them very attractive as a source of cheap, non carbon dioxide producing electricity.
  5. High Load Factor – Nuclear Power Plants have very high load factors in excess of 80%. They can generate power almost 24/7 and only require shutdown for periodic maintenance.
  6. Huge  Potential –Nuclear Energy Potential is almost infinite compared to the limited and peak features of other forms of  energy like Wind, Geothermal, Oil, Gas and others. Only Solar Energy can be said to have more potential. Note new technologies and fuels like fast breeder and thorium are still in the works which can increase the potential of Nuclear Power more.


  1. Nuclear and Radiation Accidents – This is the biggest con for Nuclear Energy and has been repeated 3 times in the last 30 years in Japan, Russia and USA. The fear of a repeat is so great that despite all the safety arrangements touted by the nuclear equipment operators and suppliers, Nuclear Energy faces an uncertain future.
  2. Nuclear Waste Disposal – Again a massive problem as the spent Nuclear Rods of Nuclear Reactors are prohibitively costly and difficult to dispose of. Spent nuclear fuel is initially very highly radioactive and so must be handled with great care and forethought. There is no foolproof way to dispose nuclear waste fuel after it is used in the Nuclear Reactors. The area around Nuclear Waste Sites can be dangerous to humans for hundreds of year as complex nuclear elements have half lives running into many years. The United States had accumulated more than 50,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear reactors. Permanent storage underground in U.S. had been proposed at the Yucca but that project has now been effectively cancelled. Presently, waste is mainly stored at individual reactor sites and there are over 430 locations around the world where radioactive material continues to accumulate.
  3. Low level of Radioactivity from Normal Operations – The nuclear industry also produces a large volume of low-level radioactive waste in the form of contaminated items like clothing, hand tools, water purifier resins and (upon decommissioning) the materials of which the reactor itself is built.
  4. Nuclear proliferation – Many countries have used the ruse of nuclear energy programs to generate fuel for developing nuclear weapons. Currently there is a major international controversy with regards to the Iranian Nuclear Energy Program. Nuclear Reactors are targets for rogue state actors who can steal the fuel for creating radiation weapons.
  5. High Capital Investment,Cost Overruns and Long Gestation Time – The time to construct a large Nuclear power project can take between 5-10 years which leads to time and cost overruns. The Nuclear Plant being built in Finland has been one of the biggest failures in Project Finance. The reactor has been delayed by many year and has led to a massive cost overrun. Areva the main nuclear equipment supplier has endured huge losses. In fact the safety regulations and the long time of construction has brought the Nuclear Energy in the Developed World to almost a halt.
  6. Regulations – The Regulations for Nuclear Energy Power Plants are many and cumbersome due to the massive risks of a failure of a nuclear reactor. This greatly increases the costs of generating nuclear power. It also leads to a long time in the actual start to the completion of a Nuclear Plant.
  7. Fuel Danger – Uranium which is the main fuel used in Nuclear Fission Power Plants is limited to a few countries and suppliers. Its use and transport is regulated by international treaties and groups. India which came under sanctions because of testing of nuclear weapons had to shut many of its nuclear plants because of embargoes.

Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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