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Facts and Fears Associated with Nuclear Energy Programme

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  • Last Updated : 19 Aug, 2022
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ia is one of the fastest-growing countries in every sector, which increases the demand for energy. With the growing economy, population, urbanisation, and industrialization, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) India Energy Outlook 2021, India needs more energy. Since 2000, energy consumption has risen, with coal and oil providing the majority of the supply. This is projected to increase by 35% through 2030. The need for nuclear energy is growing with the increasing world population, economic development, and climate change, and India should expand its nuclear energy program. The Indian government has also set a number of goals for expanding nuclear energy in the country.

Nuclear Energy in India:

Nuclear energy is a type of energy found in the nucleus/core of the atom. This energy can be used in a variety of ways, including generating electricity. Nuclear power is India’s fifth-largest source of electricity generation. Currently, the nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium produces most of the electricity in nuclear plants. As of November 2020, 7 nuclear plants with a total capacity of 7380 Megawatts and 22 nuclear reactors were operationally ready. Nuclear power generated a total capacity of 43Twh in 2020-2021, accounting for 3.11 percent of total electricity production in the country. India is making significant progress in the development of thorium-based fuels, which will be used in the design of atomic reactors.

Total electricity generation and growth in India during 2017-18 to 2022-23 – Central Electricity Authority (CEA), in Billion Unit (BU)

YEARTotal Generation Growth %
2017-18  1,308.1465.35
2018-19  1,376.0955.19
2019-20  1,389.1020.95
2020-21  1,381.827-2.49
2021-22   1,491.8597.96
2022-23*  286.48616.71

In this, Nuclear power generation is 43Twh in 2020-2021, accounts 3.11 percent of total electricity production in the country.

Reasons for Expanding the Nuclear Energy Program:

1. Increase of energy demand

  • The demand for energy in India is rapidly increasing, owing primarily to population growth and economic development. Every day, the population grows rapidly, which is forcing India to expand its nuclear energy program. 
  • According to recent surveys, India’s energy demand will skyrocket over the next 20 years, and the country has already increased its power generation capacity. 
  • Due to the COVID, electricity generation in FY19 and FY20 is lower than in previous years, and in FY21, India recovered much faster and stronger than European nations. From FY10 to FY22, India has already produced more than 500 billion units.

2. Decrease in energy supply

  • Rapid climatic changes will have a negative impact on the energy supply. Due to the extremely hot climatic conditions, hydropower is declining, and eventually, hydropower generation will be adversely affected, resulting in a decrease in energy supply.

3. Availability of the energy

  • We all know that India is the fourth largest consumer of energy in the world and yet, India is an energy-poor nation. India’s population without electricity is estimated at 19% of the entire population. 
  • The 7 nuclear plants with a total capacity of 7380 Megawatts and 22 nuclear reactors were operationally ready as of November 2020. In 2020-2021, nuclear energy generated a total capacity of 43Twh, accounting for 3.11 percent of total electricity production in the country.
  • Hence keeping all the above points in consideration, it is highly advised that the nuclear energy program should be expanded in India.

4. Expansion

  • India is the fastest-growing country in all aspects, including technology. India’s rapid growth will necessitate a large amount of nuclear energy. 
  • As of 2009, India predicted to increase the contribution of nuclear power from 2.8% to 9% within 25 years. Recently the government stated that the nuclear capacity is expected to reach 22,480MW by 2031.
  • As a result, it is recommended that the nuclear energy program be expanded in light of the development. 

5. Foreign relations

  • Every nation will have a strong bond only if the amount of imports/exports and natural resource sharing is adequate. 
  • The ‘123 Agreement’ was signed by the United States of America and the Republic of India, with the main goal of separating civil and nuclear facilities. As a result, developing nuclear capability will improve foreign relations.
  • In this regard, we can categorically say that nuclear energy plays a critical role in the development of bilateral relations between nations. 

Facts Associated with the Nuclear Energy:

  • Nuclear power plants are the most efficient source of electricity, operating at 90 percent average capacity.
  • A nuclear power plant can produce enough electricity to power 690,000 homes while emitting no pollution into the atmosphere.
  • Nuclear plants can be refuelled every 18 months, with one-third of the fuel replaced.
  • As of 2019, 450 nuclear reactors were operational, with 53 more under construction around the world. 
  • As of November 2020, 7 nuclear plants with a total capacity of 7380 Megawatts and 22 nuclear reactors were operationally ready. 
  • Nuclear energy generated a total capacity of 43Twh, accounting for 3.11 percent of total electricity production in the country.
  • India has already produced more than 500 billion units electricity between FY10 and FY22.

Fears Associated with the Nuclear Energy:

1. Health Risks: 

  • Nuclear energy generation will rely on radiation and chemical substances that are extremely hazardous to human health. If even a minor leak of radiation occurs, the entire affected area must be evacuated immediately. As a result, even imperfections in nuclear energy generation affect not only the workers but also the general public who live near the power plants.
  • From 1986-2005, approximately 5 million people residing around the surroundings of Chornobyl suffered and experienced increased risk of developing thyroid cancer. 

2. Location: 

  • A large amount of land is required to build the nuclear power station as needed to build nuclear reactors and also evacuate the surrounding areas of the plant due to potential health issues. 
  • This causes people to be evacuated from their homes, and compensating people for evacuating to their own lands is difficult. Thus, location preference is also a major concern with nuclear energy plants.

3. Radioactive waste:

  • Nuclear energy production is heavily involved in the production of waste materials. A large amount of waste will be released, potentially causing harm to both people and marine animals. 
  • Nuclear waste, for example, is being released into some lakes in some areas, potentially killing marine animals. As a result, nuclear waste poses the greatest risk.
  • On February 2nd, the Rajasthan power station leaked helium and heavy water into the river, resulting in a nearly two-year shutdown for repairs at a cost of 280 million dollars.

4. Expensive: 

  • Building a nuclear power plant is extremely expensive due to the large amount of land, manpower, and expensive equipment required. We all know that construction costs in India are rapidly rising, and thus the cost of constructing a nuclear power plant is also skyrocketing.
  • The Kudankulam nuclear power plant, located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is India’s largest nuclear plant. The construction cost for the two units, Unit 1 and Unit 2, is 13,171 crores, which was later revised to 17,270 crores. Due to technological changes and inflation, the construction cost of Units 3 and 4 is twice that of Units 1 and 2 and was later revised to 39,849 crores.

5. Accidents:

  • Another major concern about nuclear power plants is the possibility of accidents. Even today, whenever we hear about nuclear energy, the Chernobyl disaster comes to mind. We all know that thousands of people died in that accident. As a result, one of the most common concerns about nuclear power plants is accidents.
  • On May 13, 1992, a faulty tube released nearly 12 curies of radioactivity in Tarapur, Maharashtra, costing nearly $2 million USD.

6. Fuel:

  •  Another important consideration is fuel. Uranium, thorium, and other similar materials are used in nuclear energy. We won’t be able to power the reactors until we have extremely powerful fusion. Overall, nuclear energy is a short-term solution at exorbitant costs.
  • On May 4, 1987, a refueling accident at the fast breeder test reactor in Kalpakkam completely ruptured the reactor core, resulting in a two-year shutdown of the plant.


Nuclear power can significantly contribute to energy security and is critical for developing countries like India. Aside from this, nuclear energy can aid in the reduction of fuel prices and also help us in our foreign relations. Nuclear power is one of the useful sources of generation of electricity with low carbon emissions. Thus, with growing energy needs India should keep on expanding its nuclear energy programme with proper strategy and also explore other sources of energy especially renewable sources of energy.

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