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Japan ahead in N-energy race

india Updated: Dec 18, 2007 02:41 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Japan has decided to enhance its nuclear energy programme by over 10 per cent in the next 23 years to meet its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change mitigation whereas India is still looking for this option because of lack of political consensus on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Issei Takaki, the manager at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan, said the plan is to increase the share of nuclear power to about 40 per cent from the present 30 per cent by 2030. Two more reactors would be set up near the Daiichi plant to enhance its overall capacity.

Even if the nuclear deal comes through, India’s nuclear power capability will rise to only 7 per cent by 2030.

Like India, Japan is also facing resistance to its two new nuclear reactors. Takaki admitted that public opposition had delayed commencement of work, but added that they were trying to convince authorities and the people about the benefits of the nuclear power.

The time lost could be covered during constructing the plant as its about 10 years to commission a plant of about 1,100 MW fully at a cost of $35 billion.

For India (Rs 8 per kilowatt-hour), the cost is high considering the price for generating power from thermal or hydro is about Rs 3-4 per kilowatt-hour.

“That is the price one has to pay for producing environment friendly and safe nuclear power,” Takaki said.

In a bid to clear the air about safety of nuclear power, the plant officials said their records show that there has been basic minimum human damage because of any radiation leak. “The radiation measures by different agencies like Japanese government and local people show that it is less than the natural radiation within the plant. The cases of health problem because of radiation are falling and therefore, we can say nuclear energy is safe,” said Kazuyuki Haraguchi, head of the publicity department at the plant.

Last year’s earthquake in the region did not cause any damage to the nuclear plants in the region even though the six reactors were shut down for the security reasons. “All reactors are now functioning,” Haraguchi said.

Even nuclear waste has not been a problem with a recycling plant in Rokasho and even storage facility at the plant. A problem faced at some nuclear plants in France, Russia and even in India, the non-government organisations claim.

Unlike India, where the nuclear scene is dominated by the public sector, the private sector like General Electricials, Toshiba and Hitachi in Japan have pioneered in hot water reactors using uranium as fuel cells.