Bookmark and Share

Why are China and India obstinately pushing Nuclear Power despite Protests

0 Comment

Two Emerging Nuclear Giants – India & China

The Fukushima disaster in Japan involving the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant had bought a nuclear winter for the global nuclear energy industry. Many of the top nuclear countries like Japan and Germany have put a complete halt of nuclear power generation while the biggest nuclear equipment suppliers like GE and Siemens have hinted at getting out of this sector completely. But this has not changed the nuclear power plans of the two emerging giants India and China. Despite massive opposition to nuclear power, India is still trying to forge ahead even as a completed nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu remains stalled.

China lifts nuclear power moratorium hesitantly

China announced a strong renewable energy target for its electricity sector saying that it now wanted 30% of power to come from green energy by 201 up from 20% by 2020. China has decided to approve new nuclear power plants ending the moratorium it imposed to review safety in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster last year. Only a small number of plants will be built, and only in coastal areas, according to a Cabinet announcement. The plants will meet the most stringent safety standards, it said. China suspended approvals of new nuclear plants after a tsunami triggered by the massive March 11, 2011, earthquake crippled the Fukushima plant’s cooling and backup power systems, causing partial meltdowns in the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. China currently has 15 nuclear reactors that provide about 12.5 gigawatts of generating capacity, and another 26 reactors are under construction that will add 30 gigawatts, the report said.

India looks to install safety equipment for its existing Nuclear Reactors

India which has already seen multiple deaths in protestor shootings at nuclear power sites , is now looking to partner with Areva to improve safety of its exiting ~5 GW of nuclear capacity. Note India’s nulcear power contribution is miniscule and even if India meets its expansion target it will still be a tiny contributor to India’s overall power sector. The government is obstinately pushing ahead with nuclear energy despite its limited gains. Note the  top nuclear company GE recently said that nuclear power was no longer viable due to high costs. Even other top western companies like Siemens are massively reducing their investments in nuclear energy as the world recedes from nuclear energy.


Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is in talks with Areva India Pvt Ltd to install equipment at the existing nuclear power plants to improve safety standards. After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan last year, nuclear reactor operators worldwide are taking steps to upgrade safety standards in their plants. S. A. Bhardwaj, Director (Technical), NPCIL, said the company is looking at the option of installing hydrogen re-combiner at its existing locations.

GE on Nuclear Power

As the whole world is fixated on the debate about on using and not using nuclear power for energy generation, the anti-nuclear protestors have got a new powerful argument about nuclear energy being not economically feasible. General Electric which is among the world’s top 3 suppliers of nuclear energy equipment along with Toshiba and Areva, has said that it no longer makes economic sense to build nuclear reactors. To readers of GWI, this is nothing new as we wrote more than a year ago about how nuclear energy has hit a virtual wall in the developed world. Expensive safety regulations, massive time overruns, increasing equipment prices had already made nuclear energy an expensive proposition in the West. On top of that came the Fukushima disaster which has made many countries like Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Belgium to shut down their entire nuclear energy capacities.

Nuclear Power Issues in India

India has set a target of 20 GW of Nuclear Energy by 2020 from around 5 GW now and has already signed deals with major nuclear equipment suppliers like Areva,GE-Hitachi and Toshiba.However the Nuclear Disaster at Fukushima has changed things on the ground with protests growing by the day. Note only are the proposed nuclear reactors at Jaitapur facing massive protests, even the existing nuclear energy plants in India are seeing locals raising their voices. Recently many prominent citizens of India signed a protest letter against the upcoming Jaitapur plants. Note the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power has been debated on for a long time. The catastrophic risk of a nuclear reactor meltdown is the biggest con of nuclear energy and has made it intolerable in a number of countries. After Japan has decided to kill nulcear power in the country, other progressive countries like Germany, Italy and Switzerland too are going to switch off nuclear reactors once the life of the existing plants are over.

Note the cost of nuclear power has grown at a distressing pace with massive time and cost overruns. The Areva Nulcear Plant is going to cost Rs 20 crore a MW which is much more than a Thermal Power plant and even costlier than Solar Power which has the highest capital requirement amongst major energy sources. Besides disposal of nuclear energy waste is a huge problem even for countries like USA and Japan which have huge nuclear power industries. For a country like India with poor safety record, nuclear waste disposal would be a nightmare. India should learn from the example of Germany and Italy and stop going down the nuclear path and look for other green energy sources.

Also Read on GWI:



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

No Responses so far | Have Your Say!