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Nuclear Energy in India, Map, Advantages and Disadvantages

Context: Recently, Brussels hosted a first-of-its-kind Nuclear Energy Summit that highlighted the importance of nuclear energy as a solution to global problems like climate change and energy security.

Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels

  • The first-of-its-kind meeting aimed at promoting nuclear energy.
  • 30 countries participated, including some heads of state.
  • Organised in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ‘Atoms4Netzero’ programme.
  • Goal: Increase acceptance of nuclear energy for clean electricity generation.

What is Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear Energy refers to the energy released from an atom’s nucleus, either through the process of nuclear fission or nuclear fusion. Nuclear power plants harness this energy to generate electricity for homes and businesses.

Nuclear energy is the energy released from the nucleus of atoms. The compact nucleus of an atom has a tremendous amount of energy. The force that holds the nucleus together is referred to as the “strong force.” The energy is released from the atom by the process of nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is the process by which the nucleus of a heavy atom (such as uranium, plutonium, or thorium), when collided with a neutron, is split apart into lighter nuclei.

Uranium is the most widely used mineral for generating nuclear energy. The place where the process of nuclear fission takes place to generate electricity is called a nuclear power plant. Nuclear energy is considered a non-renewable energy source. This is because the materials used to generate nuclear energy are exhaustible.

Current Nuclear Energy Landscape

  • Use: Only 31 countries currently use nuclear energy for generating electricity, with 7 more aiming to join.
  • Operational Reactors: Decreased from 437 in 2003 to 411 now.

Nuclear Energy in India, Map, Advantages and Disadvantages_4.1

  • Electricity Generation Capacity: Increased marginally from 360 GW in 2003 to 371 GW now.
  • Global Share: Nuclear energy accounts for less than 10% of global commercial electricity generation, with its share declining for almost three decades.

Nuclear Energy in India, Map, Advantages and Disadvantages_5.1

Nuclear Energy in India

India acknowledges the role of nuclear energy in its plans to reduce carbon emissions (decarbonization).

Important Data Related to Nuclear Energy in India
Current Status
  • India has 23 operational nuclear reactors with a combined installed capacity of 7,480 MW (3.1% of total electricity generation capacity).
  • This share is among the lowest for countries using nuclear energy.
Plans for Expansion
  • India plans rapid expansion of nuclear power despite its low current share.
  • The goal is to triple the capacity by 2030 and have a “significant share” in the electricity mix by 2047 (specific target for 2047 not provided).
  • At least ten more reactors are under construction.
Participation in International Efforts
  • India participated in the recent Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels but did not sign the declaration at COP28 to triple global nuclear capacity by 2050.

Global Distribution of Nuclear Energy

The world’s largest nuclear power producers are the United States, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Germany.

Nuclear Energy accounts for around 9% of all energy produced in the United States. it generates 50% of all electricity in the United Kingdom, 15% in Japan, and 7% in Germany. India is the leader among emerging countries, producing 3% of its overall energy needs from nuclear power plants.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy Advantages

There are several advantages to using nuclear energy as a source of power, including:

1. Reliability

Nuclear power plants operate around the clock, generating consistent and reliable power, even during extreme weather conditions.

2. Efficiency

Nuclear power plants are highly efficient, converting more than 60% of the fuel’s energy into electricity, compared to other sources of energy that may only convert less than 40%.

Low emissions: Unlike traditional power sources, such as coal or natural gas, nuclear power plants do not emit harmful pollutants into the environment, making them a cleaner source of energy.

3. Abundance

Uranium, the fuel used in nuclear reactors, is abundant and widely available, making it a readily accessible source of energy. Nuclear energy is a popular way of generating electricity to light up homes, industries, and other buildings. The production of nuclear energy does not emit greenhouse gases and pollutes the air.

It requires less nuclear fuel such as uranium, plutonium, etc. Therefore, a smaller amount of materials can produce larger amounts of energy as compared to other sources of energy like coal, petroleum, etc. Nuclear energy is not limited to providing electricity. For example, in the health sector, radiation is used to diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer. In agriculture, nuclear radiation is used to genetically modify crops.

4. Medical

Nuclear energy is used in medical procedures, such as cancer treatments, to destroy cancer cells.

5. Industrial

Nuclear energy is used to heat industrial processes, such as the production of ceramics, plastics, and petrochemicals.

6. Research

Nuclear energy is used in scientific research, including the study of genetics, astronomy, and geology.

Nuclear Energy Disadvantages

Despite its many advantages, there are also several disadvantages to using nuclear energy, including:

1. Cost

Building and maintaining a nuclear power plant can be extremely expensive.

2. Safety

Nuclear power plants pose a significant safety risk, as a nuclear meltdown or accident can have serious environmental and health consequences.

3. Waste

Nuclear power plants produce highly radioactive waste that must be carefully managed and stored for many years.The generation of nuclear energy produces radioactive waste which is extremely toxic and harmful to the environment. There are concerns over the transportation, storage, and disposal of radioactive waste.

4. Proliferation

The technology used to generate nuclear energy can also be used to create nuclear weapons, leading to the risk of nuclear proliferation.

5. Exhaustible

Materials used to generate nuclear energy are exhaustible. For example, uranium. The nuclear sector is now financially burdened by stringent rules governing maintenance, staffing levels, operator training, and plant inspections. The general public sometimes views commercial nuclear power as a dangerous or unstable process.

Nuclear Power Plants

Some of the largest and most advanced nuclear power plants in the world include:

  • Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Japan
  • Paluel in France
  • Bruce Power in Canada
  • Palo Verde in the United States
  • India
    • Kakrapar Nuclear power Plant
    • Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant
    • Tarapur Power Station
    • Kaiga Nuclear Power Station

Nuclear Energy Fusion

The process of joining two or more atomic nuclei to create a heavier nucleus is known as nuclear fusion. Energy is released as a result of this process, and it can be used to produce electricity. Unlike nuclear fission, which splits atomic nuclei apart, fusion does not produce harmful radiation or radioactive waste.

Nuclear Energy UPSC

Nuclear energy is a useful energy source that has several benefits, such as dependability, efficiency, and minimal emissions. The future’s most significant and scarce nuclear fuel, thorium, is a gift to India. It cannot afford to miss the chance to become the global energy hub, which, when combined with the largest youth population, will be India’s response to becoming the world’s most powerful economy.

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Nuclear Energy FAQs

What is nuclear energy and examples?

A type of energy emitted by an atom's nucleus, which is composed of protons and neutrons, is known as nuclear energy. Fission, which occurs when atom nuclei split into several pieces, and fusion, which occurs when nuclei combine, are the two methods by which this type of energy can be created.

What are some 3 examples of nuclear energy?

These are some instances of nuclear energy:
● The electricity produced by nuclear power plants is enormous.
● Various medical procedures employ nuclear fission.
● Nuclear energy is used to sterilise bugs, eliminating the need for pesticides in the process.

What is the main purpose of nuclear energy?

A clean energy source with no emissions is nuclear. It produces energy by fission, which is the splitting of uranium atoms to release energy. Without the toxic consequences that come from burning fossil fuels, electricity is produced using the heat from fission to produce steam, which turns a turbine.

Is nuclear energy renewable?

Nuclear energy is recyclable even though it is not renewable energy. 96% of the spent nuclear fuel in reactors is recyclable thanks to Orano's innovations, which are unparalleled in the world on an industrial scale.

What is nuclear energy called?

Nuclear energy, also known as atomic energy, is the considerable quantity of energy released in operations that have an impact on atomic nuclei, the dense centres of atoms.

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