Go for nuclear energy, if it makes economic sense, British scientist advises India

Grimes 1408?Modi?s UK visit will be something to celebrate?

NB Nair | Indian Science Journal

New Delhi (ISJ-Exclusive) ? Chief Scientific Adviser to British Foreign Office Professor Robin Grimes suggested, India should pursue nuclear power generation, if it makes economic sense. Professor Grimes, who was on a visit to India, told Indian Science Journal, in an exclusive interview, India?s uranium reserves could last for several hundred years, longer than fossil fuels, if appropriate technology is adopted.

?The fuel would last for many many hundreds of years, far far longer than fossil fuels would last, but there are challenges in using the fuel in that way,? said Professor Grimes in New Delhi.

Professor Grimes? visit to New Delhi and Mumbai is billed as preparatory to the forthcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to UK later this year.� The last Prime Minister of India to visit Britain was Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2006.

Professor Grimes said, Britain and India have plans, under the Indo-British Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement signed in 2010, to collaborate on safety and security issues relating to the nuclear power generation.

?We are thinking of collaborating on safety-security issues or safety in particular?or research to understand the degradation process, mechanism predicting the way the material behave and system behind its stability,? he said.

Modi Cameron 1408Professor Grimes is a nuclear energy specialist and was professor of materials physics at Imperial College, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College and Director of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre for Nuclear Engineering before his appointment as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2013.

He advocated nuclear energy should be part of an energy mix, when it makes economic sense to do and believes it contributes to low carbon generation.

?It is not zero, it isn?t, because you have got to build nuclear power plants in the first place, that creates CO2, you also have to mine uranium, that again causes CO2 emissions,? said Professor Grimes.

Nuclear energy is the fourth largest source of electricity in India with an installed capacity of 5,780 MW from 21 reactors in seven nuclear power plants. With the commissioning of six more reactors under construction, the installed capacity is expected to go up to an additional 4,300 MW.

The nuclear scientist said, though there is a general perception about the safety of nuclear power reactors, it is not based on sound scientific sense. He cited, though the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan was cited as a case against nuclear power, there was just two casualties in the disaster, but ?some of those peoples? lives would have been impacted badly? as a consequence of evacuation of people living around the plant.

?The major perception we have about nuclear power is public perception and we need to make sure that the people understand it,? asserted the scientist. ?We learnt about wider ramifications, which actually indicate what Fukushima impacted on the population than the nuclear accident itself.?

The visiting dignitary was upbeat about the forthcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to UK later this year and said, it is ?something that would be possible to celebrate?.

?We are very much looking forward to the Indian Prime Minister?s visit to UK, officially we are thinking about the importance of engineering and technology collaborations between our two countries, which is going to underpin our relations for decades to come,? said Professor Grimes.

India and Britain are collaborating on several scientific fields. They have set up a 50 million British Pound Newton-Bhabha Fund to bring together scientific research and innovation sectors of both the countries to find join solutions to the challenges facing India in economic development and social welfare.� Both the countries are also working together for prediction of monsoon as also on the Square Kilometre Array, SKA, world?s largest radio telescope.�

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