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Don't fret for nuclear, go solar

india Updated: Jan 24, 2007 18:11 IST
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Regarding your report "Russia can help India meet its n-power needs" (18-01-2007). There is really no need for nuclear power in India because there is a simple mature technology available that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.

I refer to "concentrating solar power" (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and half a million Californians currently get their electricity from this source.

CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world. CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, these are not always nearby! But with transmission losses at only about 3 per cent per 1000 km, it is entirely feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity throughout India from the Thar desert (or even hot deserts in the West Asia) using highly-efficient "HVDC" transmission lines.

In the recent "TRANS-CSP" report commissioned by the German government, it is estimated that CSP electricity, imported from North Africa and the West Asia, could become one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Europe, including the cost of transmission. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.

Further information about CSP may be found at www.trec-uk.org.uk and www.trecers.net. Copies of the TRANS-CSP report may be downloaded from www.trec-uk.org.uk/reports.htm. The many problems associated with nuclear power are summarised at www.mng.org.uk/green_house/no_nukes.htm.

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