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[en] Management of SF from nuclear power reactors is an issue that has been engaging international attention for a long time. There are differing dimensions to management of SF depending on the national policy with respect to fuel cycle, methods adopted for storage and disposal and emerging understanding. This conference is an excellent opportunity for us to exchange our experiences, scientific knowledge and ideas on the large number of issues that are involved, develop common understanding and derive appropriate conclusions. The organizers have worked out a comprehensive and well structured programme for us. With such wide participation in the conference we should be in a position to enrich ourselves with broader perspective and reach some useful conclusions arising out of our discussion
[en] The solution that would enable the world to credibly and viably address the global threat of climate change is still eluding us. At the same time, nuclear energy, perhaps the only source of clean and abundant base load energy, which at one stage seemed to grow rapidly, has slowed down at a time when a large part of the world is aspiring to better their quality of life and is yet to reach the necessary level of energy consumption. Although, there is awareness on the inevitability of nuclear energy in meeting the climate change threat in a cost-effective manner, universal acceptance of this reality is eluding us. Obviously, the approach to the resolution of the tangle between sustainable development of the world at large and the existential threat to the world as a whole, needs a deeper look. Several new developments are currently being worked upon. We also need to look at the projected timelines related to progression of the potential climate change threat and implementation of the new solutions to combat it. A set of solutions, that can be deployed on an adequate enough scale before it is too late, is the need of the hour. We need these solutions not just in the context of electricity but also to address the total energy needs in a holistic way. India is a large country on a rapid economic growth path with the largest additional energy needs as compared to any other country. How India sustainably addresses her growing energy needs is thus a matter of interest both locally as well as globally.
[en] Full text: science and technology has come to the present level as a result of research and development carried over several decades. Many research reactors as well as other major experimental facilities have been built around the world and major nuclear research centers have grown around such facilities. These centers have played an important role in the development, demonstration and deployment of nuclear technologies and have enabled scientific enquiry and technology development to be pursued in a synergistic manner. As a result of these efforts, a sound theoretical base, a variety of skills and several technological processes have evolved. All these together comprise nuclear knowledge, and what has been painstakingly acquired has to be preserved. Knowledge generated at research centers or laboratories has been exploited by governments for the welfare of the people and by industry for economic growth. Ensuring adequate funding for generic research has been a government responsibility, while industry has concentrated on customizing the outcome of generic research for the development of specific goods and services. During periods of growth of a given technology, R and D funding naturally takes place. However, difficulties arise during periods of stagnation and it is during such periods that governments have to step in with a long term perspective. Think tanks also have to help in identification of issues involved and provide directions for the future. All around the world, there is a growing chorus of voices about issues related to sustainability. One has to remember that sustainability issues, while they arise as a result of economic and other evolutionary processes that come about as a result of technology, their solution also lies in technology itself. For example, application of technology to agriculture has ensured that in spite of continuous growth of population, hunger is not as prevalent as predicted. However, new sustainability issues have arisen and have to be solved. Increase in the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to the use of fossil fuels is also one such issue. It has not happened overnight, but over several decades. Indiscriminate use of plastics, increase in generation of all types of industrial wastes are some other issues. The issue of nuclear waste, however, has attracted disproportionate adverse attention in spite of the availability of technological fixes, a situation far better than many other similar issues. All these issues need to be addressed on the basis of available knowledge and continuous research. The research activity aimed at finding a long term solution for nuclear waste has been highlighted by the nuclear industry out of genuine concern for human welfare and scientific solutions now exist and what is needed is the political will to implement the scientific decisions. Thus, it would appear that development imperatives would drive evolution and deployment of technologies. The driver could be the industry or the government depending on the gestation period involved. In either case there has to be an in-built process to assess the short and long term implications. The governments have thus to facilitate knowledge management for the purpose of sustainable development particularly when the long term issues have to be addressed. The atomic energy programme in India has been very successful, and the two factors which have been crucial to this success are technology management within the conglomerate of institutions of the Department of Atomic Energy in India and policies followed for human resource development. In both areas we have followed innovative approaches. For technology management, we have set up a variety of organizations to manage the complete chain involving research, development, demonstration and deployment under a single umbrella. For meeting our need of specialized manpower, we have followed the 'Hire and Train' approach. Since our programme is expanding, young professionals are being inducted on a regular basis. Therefore, tacit knowledge and skills are also getting continuously passed on to the new generation of scientists and engineers. However, in the case of nations, where for various reasons young professionals are not getting attracted towards nuclear science and technology, the situation is difficult. While actions are required to ensure continuity of knowledge through induction of young people, there is also a need to document all the available knowledge base and that is where the Agency comes in. Knowledge preservation programme initiated by the Agency, organization of this meeting and the recently completed evaluation of INIS are steps in the right direction and need to be supported. We are willing to share our training facilities with other nations and we have already signed an agreement with the Agency in this regard. (author)
[en] Energy is essential for the survival and growth of human civilisation. Growing population and economic development are accelerating the rate at which the demand for energy, in general, and electricity, in particular is growing. A per capita electricity use of about 5000 kWh/year appears to be needed for reaching a state of reasonably high human development. Considering the progressive depletion of fossil fuel reserves, and the urgent need for addressing the global warming related concerns, nuclear energy is expected to emerge as a major option to substantially contribute to meeting the future global energy needs. Assuming that at least half of the total energy demand may need to be met with nuclear, the world will need between 3000 to 4000 nuclear power reactors of different capacities for electricity generation. The goal is independent of any projected scenario for growth. A scenario will help in estimating the time when the goal can be reached. Substitution of fossil fuel based transport fuel with nuclear energy produced alternative transport fuel or energy carrier (such as hydrogen), would increase the number of these reactors at least twofold. Many of these reactors may need to be located in regions with high population densities and modest technological infrastructure, with their sizes consistent with local needs. The level of safety achieved must ensure practically insignificant risk in the public domain.
[en] The first stage of Indian nuclear power programme envisages construction of a number of 235 MWe and 500 MWe pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR). These unit sizes which fall within the small and medium power reactor range have been found to be optimum under Indian conditions. While the primary reason for choosing this system has been our objective to be self reliant in nuclear power reactor technology, the PHWR system also has many advantages from safety point of view. Further through a systematic development programme, a number of new features have been added to this system for better safety and performance. PHWRs have a number of distinctive inherent safety features such as availability of cool moderator within the reactor core, low excess reactivity, locations of reactivity control devices in low pressure regions, two independent shutdown systems, a double containment system with passive vapour suppression pool etc. Availability of such inherent safety features have assumed importance in recent times. An exercise has been carried out to make an assessment of safety characteristics of PHWR system under postulated extreme events scenario. It has been brought out that a small reactor with judiciously engineered safety systems can be developed into a system with effective inherent safety. A number of novel features can also be introduced in such systems to enhance both safety as well as the performance of the reactor system. (author)
[en] At the present stage of development no single energy resource or technology constitutes a panacea to address all issues. Therefore, it is necessary that all low-carbon and non-carbon emitting resources become an integral part of an energy mix - as diversified as possible - to ensure energy security to the world during the present century. Available sources are low carbon fossil fuels, renewables and nuclear energy and all these should be subject of increased level of research, development, demonstration and deployment. It is in this context, that the Agency has an important role to play. Growth of nuclear energy in the developing countries is a matter of global interest in view of its potential to protect the earth from irreversible climate changes. The present nuclear energy technologies need to be examined and barriers - real or perceived - to their deployment overcome through technological solutions. Concerns with regard to safety, restrictive regimes arising out of international politics, and investment risks due to long gestation periods, evolving liability regimes and uncertain regulatory regimes need to be addressed through innovative solutions. IAEA with its broadest membership base is an indispensable platform for addressing these concerns through a technological approach. (author)