India plans to spend some $17 billion in revamping and building new nuclear power plants over the next five years, even as protests continue to plague ongoing projects.
According to the Indian Express, the sum allotted for nuclear power investments over the 12th five year plan (April 1 2012-March 31, 2017) represents the highest amount ever spent by India on atomic energy. It includes nearly $13 billion for building new plants. Those facilities will mostly be imported light-water, reactor-based plants sourced from global vendors such as France’s Areva, US firms GE-Hitachi and Toshiba-Westinghouse and Russia’s Atomstroyexport, the paper said.
Since I wrote about the protests against Areva’s planned nuclear power facility in Maharashtra for GlobalPost, another pitched battle has erupted over a nuclear power plant that is nearly completed in Tamil Nadu, where the local fishing community is concerned about safety and the plant’s environmental impact.
At the same time, however, the government has cleared massive swaths of land for coal mining to fuel conventional power plants, and the Central Electricity Authority has warned of an upcoming shortage of supply of comparatively clean natural gas. And in northeast India, Nepal and Bhutan, India is seeking to build hundreds of massive hydropower plants that promise to wreak havoc on the majestic Himalayas.
Provided that nobody takes any shortcuts on safety, or on environmental impact studies, I’m starting to think that nuclear might actually be the best alternative.