Key Messages

India is targeting an ambitious GDP growth rate of 8 per cent and for that the power sector needs to grow in tandem.This paper makes an assessment of the potential for capacity addition from various energy sources such as coal,natural gas, hydro, wind and biomass and concludes that these sources will be found wanting in closing the gap between desired growth and business as usual growth. In this background, the recent India-US declaration on cooperation in nuclear power provides an opportunity for accelerated growth. India stands to benefit from imported nuclear fuels and reactors to augment its indigenous capabilities. We critically examine the oft-stated criticisms regarding the economics of nuclear power and its role in CO2 mitigation, and find these to be issues worthy of further analysis but not “deal-breakers”. The recent US-India declaration should be viewed not with suspicion or alarm but rather as an opportunity for India to increase its power generation from nuclear sources and also as recognition for its outstanding nuclear non-proliferation practices. This agreement will also provide the much-needed breathing space the Indian atomic energy establishment needs for enabling the plutonium fast breeder and thorium reactors to come on stream.

Whither Nuclear Power?