Nuclear energy will remain a small part of India’s power supply for the next 25 years even if the country seals a civil nuclear deal with the United States, a member of India’s top policy-making body said on Tuesday.
India’s dependency on coal, which accounts for nearly 41% of its energy needs and has become a focus of global worries about global warming, will remain unchanged due to the booming economy’s expanding demand for power.
Nuclear power is expected to go up from the current 2-3% of India’s energy supply to 6-7% by 2031 in the most optimistic scenario with the US deal and consequently boost private investment in the sector, Kirit Parikh, member, Planning Commission, told Reuters.
“Even if we go full steam in nuclear energy, wind and hydro (electric power) still you will find coal remains and will remain a significant part of energy mix. Coal would be supplying 41% of India’s energy needs,” Parikh said.
India and the US will discuss the civil nuclear deal during the visit of US energy secretary Samuel Bodman to New Delhi later this week. Parikh will brief Bodman on India’s energy policies.
US President George W. Bush in December signed into law a Bill approved by Congress allowing a civil nuclear deal to go through, a major step towards letting India buy US nuclear reactors and fuel for the first time in 30 years.
But Congress attached several conditions to the law which have not gone down well with New Delhi, and the two countries have returned to negotiations. Under the Bill, the US President would be required to end the export of nuclear materials if India tests another nuclear device. Its last tests were in 1998.
It also does not guarantee uninterrupted fuel supplies for reactors, and prevents India from reprocessing spent fuel.
Parkih hopes that India and the US will sign a deal on civil nuclear supplies by the end of this year, but sees “little meaning” of the deal for New Delhi if it is not allowed to reprocess spent fuel for further generation. “If the deal gets through we can get more than 65,000MW. It all depends on whether we are allowed to use the fuel. If we are not allowed to reprocess the fuel for further generation then the deal has very little meaning for us.”
He said the deal would bring in much-needed investment and technology for India, which is grappling with power shortages. But he added India could develop its nuclear industry without the deal.
“I already have a car but if somebody makes me sit in a car which is comfortable, it is fine. I am happy with it but I will not pledge my honour to get that car,” he said. “But (imported nuclear technology) are not really vitally critical ... We already have the technology to go our own way completely. It is not just that we are desperate to get that technology,” he said.