So were the words of New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, of India, speaking of nuclear energy at the first session of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.
India has the world’s second-largest population, just shy of 1.2 billion, and is also home to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Feeding 1.2 billion people and expanding the economy is no easy task, and the country suffers from massive air and water pollution problems.
Part of the problem is based on the country making the switch from primarily agricultural to industrial. Millions still cook over wood fires, adding to local carbon dioxide (CO2) and soot (PM2.5) emissions, increasing deforestation and erosion, and adding to respiratory problems. At the same time, relatively cheap fossil fuel energy generation, such as coal and oil, further add to CO2 and PM2.5 emissions.
Looking at the surface of things, India’s emissions problems could be solved by the addition of renewable energy or nuclear energy. India is already number five, globally, in the adoption of wind power generation, and is now heading offshore for even more wind capacity. India also expects to have 1 TW of solar power in place by 2027, which is still a long way off.
In the meantime, and in spite of the problems that nuclear energy represents, Energy Minister Abdullah notes that renewable energy isn’t expanding enough to cover India’s growing energy needs. Abdullah wants to work toward renewable energy, but believes that they can’t expand it fast enough to cover India’s energy needs.
Protestors and inherent dangers notwithstanding – one only has to mention Chernobyl or Fukushima to know what we’re talking about – Energy Minister Abdullah said, “India is moving forward. India needs energy. Therefore, please forgive us. We have to use nuclear energy till renewable energy comes up to such a level that we are able to dispense with fossil fuels and nuclear energy.”
My question is, wouldn’t renewable energy, even if somewhat inconsistent, be better than what India already has? I believe the risk nuclear energy represents is far greater than a little power grid instability, which would be solved by the addition of backup power, anyway.
Photo credit: Horasis / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)