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Indian Nuclear Energy’s $1.8 million per megawatt cost shows why it is a dead end technology

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Nuclear Energy supporters are gung ho after two reactors of the Kudunkulam plant being built in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were brought online, despite the strong protests by local people for the last 2-3 years. This nuclear power plant which was built with the help of the Russians has been in deep controversy, as the fishermen who live near this plant were not ready to let this plant start operations fearing for their safety due to any possible nuclear accidents. It took coercive measures by the state and central government, as well as a Supreme Court ruling to get these protests under control.

Now 2000 MW of round the clock nuclear energy is flowing into the grid. However, the long delays has led to massive cost escalation. These 1000 MW reactors are costing more than $1.8 million/MW, due to the 10 year long delay. This means that the cost of the nuclear energy is almost twice that of a solar energy capacity of 1000 MW, which costs around $0.7 million/MW. Though solar energy capacity produces much lower amounts of electricity at around 20% CUF as compared to the 80-90% CUF in case of nuclear power plants, the costs are not very different.

Nuclear Energy Advantages vs Disadvantages

Nulcear energy plants cost much more operationally than solar energy because of fuel requirements, as well as onerous safety regulations that need to be followed. Solar energy plants are almost entirely fault free requiring only the washing of solar panels. In comparison, the Kakrapar nuclear plant being built in Gujarat is getting delayed because of safety issues, which nobody has been able to solve till date. The fear of nuclear radiation due to any incident is a powerful disadvantage for nuclear power plants.

Even Japan which is one of the most technologically advanced nations could not prevent a major nuclear accident such as Fukushima. Though the Indian nuclear community can claim that no major nuclear incidents have taken place in more than 6000 MW of existing capacity, they can’t guarantee safety in the future. Any small incident can lead to massive issues in a densely populated country like India. Ukraine which suffered from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster is still quaranting large areas because of deadly nuclear radiation, which can persist for centuries.

With high costs, nuclear energy makes sense no more for a country like India. Rapid advances in solar and wind technology have meant that costs for large RE plants can now compete even with cheap coal based power plants. These solar costs will come down even more in the future. Nuclear energy technology is at a dead end in my view. India should stop looking at expanding nuclear power, with its target of more than 60 GW by 2032 looking redundant in my view.

Now the tears — The 220 MW Indian made nuclear reactor located at Kakrapar in southern Gujarat failed on the morning of March 11, 2016. A leak developed and the automatic systems brought the reactor to a halt, even as AERB asserted “there was no hazard to the operators and the public.” No radioactivity leaked out beyond permissible levels and no one suffered any radiation sickness.

Yet four months after the ‘incident’, the exact cause of the leak has not been deciphered. According to AERB, preliminary investigation have revealed that “the failed coolant channel is seen to have three cracks… the leaky coolant channel is yet to be removed from the reactor for detailed failure analysis and establishing the causes.



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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