Wind, Solar and Biomass Power Has Limitations

Ill Informed Discussions On Koodankulam Nuclear Plant In Tamil Nadu

Koodankulam Nuclear Plant In Tamil Nadu

l by N. S. Venkataraman 

(November 16, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Nobody should oppose non conventional power projects such as wind or solar. However, in a country like India, with huge demand for power and power shortage now crippling the industrial and economic activities, India has to use all sources for power generation. It is foolish to imagine that there is any competition between non conventional energy and nuclear power.
Wind Power
. While the present wind power capacity in Tamil Nadu is around 6000 MW, there is a view that there may be additional wind power potential of only around 5000 MW, which has to be established by detailed feasibility studies. Therefore, it has to be seen that wind power potential in Tamil Nadu is limited.
Off shore wind power projects is the alternative. However, technology are still being developed for the off shore wind power project around the world and are not ready for project implementation.
The wind power projects operate at average of less than 40% capacity today due to absence of adequate wind during most part of the year.
It is clear that wind power is undependable, is not available throughout the year and is totally insufficient to meet even 20% of Tamil Nadu’s total power requirement.
Solar power
In the case of solar power, it can not operate round the clock as far as grid supply is concerned .
There are several problems still remain to be sorted out in the case of solar power, particularly cost of solar power generation, which is now as high as Rs.16/- per unit.
Further, the starting material for solar power is poly crystalline silicon and 1MW of solar power requires 10 tonnes of poly crystalline silicon . With India’s target of 20,000 MW of solar power, we need 2 lakhs tonnes of poly crystalline silicon . There is no production of poly crystalline silicon in India today and no project is in the advanced stage. Indian solar units will become vulnerable to international price cartel for importing poly crystalline silicon.
We need to urgently create capacity for poly crystalline silicon. Nobody is talking about these issues.
Biomass power
Several of the biomass projects already operating in Tamil Nadu are sick or operating at low capacity due to inadequate availability of biomass and related cost factors.
Thermal power projects
In the case of thermal power projects, India’s dependence on import of fuel such as coal, crude oil/natural gas are now reaching alarming level, making the cost of power generation in future becoming a question mark due to high price of imported coal, crude oil and natural gas. Such import dependence for fuel for thermal power project is a calculated risk that the country is taking.
It is well known that radiation issues are high in coal based thermal power projects also apart from serious environmental issues.
Limitations in all cases
We need to realize that there are limitations with regard to all these options.
Alternate sources of fuel for power
India has to work out alternate sources of power such as jatropha bio fuel or algae biofuel.
The technologists and engineers have been repeatedly urging the government to encourage research and development efforts for development and use of alternate fuel such as jatropha and algae bio fuel. While there was huge euphoria about the use of jatopha bio fuel a few years back, the government has given a silent burial for the jatropha bio fuel projects by not introducing innovative and cost benefit incentive schemes. Huge investments that have been made in the jatropha projects in the country are now facing closure and uncertainty due to indifferent attitude of the government.
Millions of dollars are now being spent in developed countries in R&D work for the development of algae bio fuel at economical cost. India has huge opportunities due to tropical conditions and coastal belt for the cultivation of algae and development of algae bio fuel. But the government of India does not appear to be listening and is guilty of not initiating appropriate development projects for algae bio fuel on suitable scale with the urgency that it deserves. This gives an impression as to whether the government of India is not interested at all in finding alternate fuel to face the impending fuel crisis in the country.
Koodankulam power project
Everyone of the criticisms expressed against Koodankulam power project have been competently answered and explained by Indian nuclear scientists , some of whom have high international credentials and they can walk into any nuclear science forum in the world.
Dr.Kalam explained the safety aspects with high level of clarity in simple Tamil lanaguage, so that all local people can understand . While the scientists do explain, the protesters keep on repeating the same questions again and again. What can the scientists do more than this ? They can only explain the facts.
It is tragic that the protestors are even belittling Dr. Abdul Kalam ,who is a renowned scientist and known to be a honest man of highest standard. He is the most civilized and sane voice in India today and it is extremely uncharitable for anyone to doubt his intentions or credentials when he supports the Koodankulam plant.
The nuclear science and technology is a complicated field and it is difficult for layman to understand. In the case of such complicated technology issues , it has been the practice around the world that the common man and the government place faith on the assurances of the scientists and go along with them.
In Tamil Nadu, it is sad that the protestors seem to think that they are alone interested in the welfare of the people, ignoring the fact that the Indian scientists are as much interested in the welfare of the people as these protestors.


Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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