Nuclear Energy, its importance to India and World and Liability Law

Nuclear Energy : Every single atom in the universe carries an unimaginably powerful battery within its heart, called the nucleus. This form of energy, often called Type-1 fuel, is hundreds of thousands, if not million, times more powerful than the conventional Type-0 fuels, which are basically dead plants and animals existing in the form of coal, petroleum, natural gas and other forms of fossil fuel.

Terminology –

  • Nuclear fission splitting of atoms to produce energy in the form of heat. Uranium a naturally occurring radioactive metal – only element in which fission (splitting off nucleus) can take place easily, setting off a chain reaction or a self-sustained splitting of atoms. The atoms of Uranium are the largest and the heaviest known on earth so its nucleus is unstable. Besides uranium, plutonium can undergo fission.
  • Nuclear Fusion- It is a nuclear process, where energy is produced by smashing together light atoms. It is the opposite reaction of fission, where heavy isotopes are split apart. Fusion is the process by which the sun and other stars generate light and heat.
  • the fuel core of the reactor, e.g. Light water, heavy water (D2O). Fertile material – composed of atoms which do not undergo induced fission themselves but fissile material can be generated from them by irradiation in a nuclear reactor. E.g. U 238 gives plutonium 239, TH-232 gives U-233, and U-234 gives U-235.
  1. Criticality – When the chain reaction takes place for the first time in a nuclear electricity reactor, it means the reactor has reached its first criticality.
  2. Moderator – used to slowdown neutrons surrounding
  • Pressurised Heavy Water reactor (PWHR)– Fuel used is natural uranium. Heavy water is both coolant and reactor and is kept under high pressure. Natural Uranium has 2 kinds of isotopes – 99.3 % U-238 and 0.7 % U-235. Former is not fissile. LWR – Light water is used eg. Kundankulam
  • Enriched Uranium – when non fissile material is removed from natural uranium. It is achieved by a series of chemical and physical processes in centrifuges. In India it is done at Rare Materials plant, Mysore.

Also Read:Industrial Revolution

  1. Nuclear Energy on the Globe –

Currently, there are 443 nuclear reactors in operation in some 30 countries around the world. The largest plant under the construction as of 2021, is situated in Finland with a gross electricity generation capacity of 1,720 megawatts, with a total capacity of about 375 GW (e). The industry now has more than 14,000 reactor-years of experience. Sixty more units, with a total target capacity of 58.6 GW under construction.

2.Global Nuclear Power generation- By 2010, global nuclear power generation had reached 2,630 terawatt hours. However, the following year saw output drop due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. Generation continued to decline in the following year but has since recovered. With annual growth, nuclear power generation reached 2,586 terawatt hours in 2019. Currently, nuclear power accounts for roughly 10 percent of global electricity generation.

Meanwhile, the country with highest total electric capacity of nuclear reactors under construction worldwide is China, where almost 16 gigawatts of nuclear reactors were being built.

After Fukushima countries commit to reduce would reduce nuclear energy dependence

CountryFromTo
France7850(in quick time)
Japan400 (by 2040)
Germany180 (by 2022)

Can Japan really turn off its nuclear power?

Japan got around 30% of its electricity from nuclear power before Fukushima, and was planning to raise that to 50%. Now Japan, a resource-poor nation will be importing 96% of its energy from overseas, mainly fossil fuels. This is expensive, not to speak of ruining all environmental standards.

  • Almost all of Japan’s oil and gas is sourced from West Asia, and all of those super tankers traverse the difficult waters of Straits of Hormuz, South and East China Seas having geo-strategic limitations given trust-deficit with China.
  • Japan is not an overt nuclear weapons state, but it’s famously known as being a screwdriver’s turn away from being one. It could become a costly security mistake.

Japan is not an overt nuclear weapons state, but it’s famously known as being a screwdriver’s turn away from being one. It could become a costly security mistake.

While some other countries are progressing with nuclear power. The UAE plans to build four nuclear power plants of a total 5,600 MW at $20 billion, the first of which will roll out in 2017. South Korea won this contract from under the noses of the market leader, France.

Nuclear Advantages –

  • Energy from fossil fuels brought many benefits it unfortunately also has major negative consequences. There are three main categories of negative consequences.
  • The first is air pollution: at least five million people die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution.
  • Fossil fuels and the burning of biomass – wood, dung, and charcoal – are responsible for most of those deaths. Eliminating fossil fuels could cut premature deaths from air pollution by around two-thirds. That’s three to four million deaths per year.
  • The second is accidents. This includes accidents that happen in the mining and extraction of the fuels (coal, uranium, rare metals, oil and gas) and it includes accidents that occur in the transport of raw materials and infrastructure, the construction of the power plant, or their deployment.
  • For Example: The Kyshtym accident in fuel reprocessing in 1957, the relatively smaller Three Mile Island meltdown (United States), the much bigger Chernobyl accident (USSR, 1986) and the recent Japanese incident at Fukushima. The first accident was purely due to underdeveloped technology, and much of the blame for the next two disasters is attributed to human error. So fear of nuclear power plant being fundamentally prone to disasters is unfounded.
  • The third is greenhouse gas emissions: fossil fuels are the main source of greenhouse gases, the primary driver of climate change. In 2018, 87% of global CO2 emissions came from fossil fuels and industry.
  • A nuclear power plant can give you steady, uninterrupted, predictable power unlike many renewable sources. The sun isn’t shining all the time and neither is the wind blowing at optimum generating speeds.
  • Cost of a nuclear power plant incorporates the cost of waste and decommissioning. Unlike fossil fuels – cost in terms of human and environmental damage is incalculable.
  • Regulations also had to with the initial nuclear plant set-up. It was only in December 2010 that the old requirement that reactors should not be constructed above ‘active faults’ was replaced with ‘faults.’
  • , fossil fuels are the dirtiest and most dangerous, while nuclear and modern renewable energy All energy sources have negative effects. But they differ enormously in size: as we will see, in all three aspects sources are vastly safer and cleaner.
  • From the perspective of both human health and climate change, it matters less whether we transition to nuclear power or renewable energy, and more that we stop relying on fossil fuels.

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