Friday, February 06, 2009

french to get $10 billion from india for nuclear power plants

feb 6th, 2009

just one word: "boondoggle".

and another: "waste".

let me turn around and ask the questions all the pseudo-seculars and communists always ask when a big amount is spent on defense.

1. how many classrooms could have been built for $10 billion?

2. how many public toilets could have been built for $10 billion?

3. how many people below the poverty line could have been saved with $10 billion?

and finally,

4. how much are the politicians getting out of this? 10%? 40%?


French Company Joins Indian Utility in a Deal for Nuclear Plants

Published: February 4, 2009
NEW DELHI - American politicians and business executives spent years negotiating an agreement to give India access to civilian nuclear technology, but a French company may reap the first rewards of the deal.

The company, Areva, which is owned mostly by the French government, said on Wednesday that it had joined with the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India to build at least two and possibly as many as six nuclear power plants in the energy-starved country. Their two-reactor project could be worth about $10 billion, officials from the French company and the Indian government said.

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san said...

Rajeev, India does need energy badly, and the cost of that energy can more than be repaid through the economic activity it will facilitate.
Even classrooms need power for lighting.

Delram said...

Couldn't agree more with San!

Power generation in a country is directly proportional to its GDP (and thereby living standards)

AGworld said...

thats naive

india needs power, but not if it costs rs 16 per unit.

in any case, power made at such a cost wont benefit anyone since no one will buy it -- plants will remain idle.

of course, manmoham will have made plenty!

san said...

The thing is that we have to breech the nuclear technology barriers erected around us. Once we have suitably laid these low, we can then proceed on a more flexible basis, to optimize our gigawatts-for-the-buck.

kp11 said...

san seems to have a blueprint for India's nuclear future which none of our leaders are aware about :-)

san said...

Here, read this:

India can continue to develop its technology, even while it absorbs newer technologies from more advanced sources.

Non Carborundum said...

Both San and Rajeev should get rid of their dogmas with San going nukular and Rajeev going socialist green.
We have enough coal, albeit laden with ash and thats all that we should look at to meet our energy needs. Screw the world - let someone else develop nuclear and renewable energy. Also, global warming is a big scam.
Wake up! Wake up!

nizhal yoddha said...

non carborundum illegitimati -- i wish you were right about global warming, but you are not. there is visible change in flora and fauna and sea levels.

i am writing an invited paper on india's energy security, and i do appreciate your sentiment about coal. i even think india should blackmail the rest of the world by saying we'll burn coal if you don't give us oil/gas/uranium.

but the crux of the matter with coal is that we *have* coal. so we can do more or less what we please with coal. similarly, we have sunlight, wind, etc. so the entire idea behind energy security is to be *not* dependent on someone else's uranium or gas or oil. therefore you are in effect agreeing violently with me.

but let us also appreciate that burning coal is like spitting into the wind: we will suffer environmental consequences ourselves.

Non Carborundum said...


A slightly belated response as I was out of station. The correct phrase is “Illegitimi Non Carborundum” although “Non Illegitimi Carborundum” is also acceptable to me as both represent philosophies I adhere to. Your variant seems a bit naughty. I hope you can find some different food for thought from the foregoing when you write your article, if you haven't already done so.

Global warming itself might be real, but increased concentration of CO2 seems to be more of an effect rather than a cause and this is borne out by analysis of time series data which indicates better correlation when the time series of CO2 concentrations lags the time series for temperatures. And then there is research that says that we might be entering an ice age. At the very least, there is some confusion, but in any case, if increased levels of CO2 did really come first, then the stated cause of the prevalent theory puts the blame more on Europe and America, so let them take care of it (or at least the bulk of it).

Also, it is a habit of environmental economists, many of whom have liberal arts backgrounds I might add, to club all environmental effects together, but in reality there are various local and global environmental effects. You say burning coal is like spitting into the wind - yes, but only insofar as local pollution is concerned of soil and water but not for CO2 emissions – that is like spitting at the whole world, and frankly they deserve it! All of the environmental effects of coal can be mitigated through means like carbon sequestration, better ash handling, better cooling tower and cooling water system design, more stringent norms for quality of exhaust from the chimneys through the use of electrostatic precipitators etc.. If there is a case for promoting renewable energy, then there is an equally strong case for promoting coal based generation with good environmental safeguards.

In the past I have vociferously advocated renewable energy, and this entire clean-green-carbon neutral business has become quite fashionable in recent times, but my opinion has starkly changed with experience. First of all, what are the objectives one intends to meet with renewable energy? Broadly, the stated objectives are reduced damage to the environment, and secondly, energy security. While wind and solar energy are benign environmentally, biomass and small hydro have their own stark environmental effects. As for the matter of energy security, let it be clear that conventional sources have to be the mainstay and not even a third of India’s power needs can be met through renewables. I have no objection to adopting any alternative source, but I believe that it has to be inherently economical (considering opportunity costs for land etc. as well as incidental benefits) without subsidies or incentives.

On a case to case basis, one does find inherently economical projects in the four main categories of renewable energy – Small Hydro, Biomass, Wind, and, Solar. However, the across the board subsidies and incentives are resulting in a lot of wastage. For instance, with prime locations being taken up, wind is not inherently economical in most cases and plant load factors are about 20 % for the sites available presently and capital costs are about Rs. 7-8 crore / MW. Yet, investors line up because of feed-in tariffs and accelerated depreciation.

Instead of funding / subsidizing / incentivizing research in renewable energy, our central and state governments have been funding installation of capacity or energy generation. India has perhaps the most attractive incentives for setting up renewable energy generation with feed-in tariffs, purchase obligations, capital subsidy, accelerated depreciation, and carbon credit revenue operating all at once.

This is already resulting in freeloaders lining up and sucking up subsidies and incentives like parasites. One may not realize it, but this a form of socialism with resources being diverted for uneconomical ventures at the cost of something else. The socialism angle is not a vague conspiracy theory. One leading organization in India whose “promoters” are also big shots on the “global warming scene”, is staffed by the typical sling bag type. I can give you numerous examples of such nonsense happening including hundreds of “pilot” projects.

Also, it displays the utter stupidity of our policy makers because a project qualifies as a CDM project only if it is proven that only the additional revenue (additionality) on account of carbon emissions reductions makes the project viable. However, with the incentives announced by the government, this additionality becomes difficult to prove and the nation loses that potential revenue as the project is rejected by UNFCC as a CDM project.

Further, added to low plant load factors, renewable energy sources are intermittent and unpredictable and therefore cannot be scheduled to meet a certain fixed demand. In fact, most renewable energy sources need the support of the stability of the electric grid which is stabilized mainly by conventional base load and peak load sources (this is a somewhat technical aspect which I can elaborate more if required). Effectively, renewable energy injected into an electrical power system destabilizes it and also increases the required investment on electrical network per KWh of energy transacted on the system.

I am not against any alternative energy source. I am not also against developing nuclear technology for both energy generation and military use. In fact, both are necessary in the long run. But I do believe that coal has to meet most of our electricity demand and can potentially meet much of our demand for hydrocarbons (through in situ coal gasification and coal liquefaction) and our government has failed miserably with coal and power generation policy. Coal is not receiving the priority it ought to. We have one of the highest coal reserves in the world, but it has high ash content. We need to be able to mine this coal efficiently using newer methods to minimize cost and more importantly wastage, develop large facilities for coal washing, and develop coal transportation networks (rail, road, slurry pipelines). Various conglomerates have also made acquisitions of coal blocks either directly or through equity in countries like Indonesia. The top industrialists are crucial for acquiring coal resources around the world. If we focus on only one thing for energy security, it has to be coal.

For power generation, tapping large hydro reserves in the north-east as well as Nepal comes second. There is a 25 km wide “chicken neck” area between the north-east and the rest of India which makes evacuation of power from this region to the rest of India very difficult. We need some arrangements through Bangladeshi territory for this. But I think these have to be seized more than requested.

There is limited land and right-of-way available in India and any infrastructure development basically consumes these two very valuable resources. Our attempt should be to build the largest scale projects in any sector and especially power. We have been building sissy 200 MW units and have only recently started broaching 500 MW / 660 MW, while the Chinese do not talk below 1000 MW. My fear is that we’ll just deplete all our land, right-of-way and river water sources (for cooling water requirements) if we do not build the right scale of facilities at the very outset.