Published in: Business Development Forum, Hydropower Journal, Vol. 6, No. 5, July/Aug 2008
Environmentalist: Dipesh Raj Pant and Arjun Kumar Limbu (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the run for Science & Technology adaptation in Nepal, the most remarkable first hydro-electricity generated was the 500KW turbine at Pharphing, built in 1911 to supply electricity to Kathmandu city. After almost a century of development in electricity generation; electrification was seen as a development tool which would bring social and environmental benefits to rural communities and to the nation as a whole. The pragmatic implication of electricity on a household basis would relief a woman’s heavy duty and physical workload pressure. Water, Water and Water everywhere virtually in Nepal! The water has become an auxiliary basic necessity in today’s time. The grandiose expression about the capacity of hydropower electricity (hydel) generation in context of Nepal has only brought the grim milieu to the grass-root consumer people, who are still living in the dark, searching light in this era of advancement in science and technology. While documenting this article, eight hours of ‘load shedding’ has severely afflicted this Kathmandu City, the capital of Nepal. In the name of development of hydel generation, one day, one sees only the hydropower in Nepal. It is inevitable that hydel is not enough for the increasing electricity demand. Huge investment has already been invested in hydel development. Eventually, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) will have to give attention towards shifting to Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). Therefore, entrepreneurs have to ponder upon it as well. Will our move on Nuclear energy nonplus the hydel system and should we advance on NPP?
Nepal has no exploitable fossil fuel resources and dependence on imports has become both a strain on the economy and a point of vulnerability, as the trade dispute with Indian in 1989 revealed. Ever since then, the government of Nepal has given energy supply a high priority in its plans for the country’s development, and, since the oil crisis in the 1970s, has shown increasing interest in and support for hydroelectricity as an energy source. Electricity supply was seen as a means to stimulate industrial growth, bring social benefits (such as improved literacy and health), improve communications, encourage government staff to work in the remote areas, and bring these isolated communities into contact with the outside world.
Norway is also a mountainous country which still has a large, but scattered, rural population. Like Nepal, its terrain and hydrological resources are ideally suited to hydro-electrification and, by 1980, 99.8 percent of its electricity was based on inland water power. Key elements emerge from the experience of China and Norway. Both had to cope with the problem of remoteness and solved it by emphasizing local initiative and control. The ‘Localization’ of the projects extended to the local production of equipment and the use of local resources. Thus, instead of trying to fight the remoteness of these sites and bring them under central control, the governments devolved the responsibility, and also the necessary authority to local bodies.Nepalthough vaingloriously apprised as one of the richest in water resources; still the parasitism nature has inflicted this country in case of electricity crisis. It is very agitating to hear that the vaunted as the second richest water resources country Nepal has to import electricity. If a third party would have been active in Nepal’s water resources taming; one would have definitely available electricity at a cheap cost to individual households and even exports to neighboring needy nations in case of demand. Nepal has to face more bleak ‘load shedding’ in coming years as shown in Table 1, which shows dismal to the consumer, ultimately affecting the developmental pace of country. Today, it is very dilapidating situation of Nepal.
Table 1. Upcoming Load shedding Schedule ( from December to May): (Adapted from Kantipur Daily News paper, date Tuesday, Feb 5, 2008).
|Years||Total Load shedding Hours|
India’s nuclear program was conceived in the pre-independence era by a small group of influential scientists who grasped the significance of nuclear energy and persuaded political leaders from the Indian National Congress to invest resources in the nuclear sector. In the aftermath of independence in August 1947, the Congress government led by Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru launched an ambitious dual-use, three-stage nuclear program to exploit India’s abundant natural thorium reserves. The primary focus of the program was the production of inexpensive electricity. However, the decision to develop the complete nuclear fuel cycle–from ore mining, processing and fuel fabrication facilities, research and power reactors, spent-fuel reprocessing plants, heavy water production plants, and waste treatment and disposal facilities–also led to India’s acquiring the technical capability to build nuclear weapons. They faced the challenges from governing technical aspects to today’s nuclear weapon holder.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. – A Public Sector Undertaking spearheading India’s nuclear power programme. Seventeen reactors are under operation and five reactors are under construction. Nuclear Power is environment friendly, technologically proven, economically competitive and associated with the advantage of energy security and diversity. The NPCIL, with its record of safety and excellence, preserves the environment, keeping it healthy; as the nature intended it to be. NPCIL re-dedicates itself to increase nuclear power generation capacity in the Country consistent with the available resources in a self reliant, safe, economical and rapid manner in keeping with the growth of energy demand in the Country. Why can’t Nepal also be enabled to have run NPP smoothly and efficiently?
Australia’s prime minister has said he supports the idea of local votes on potential new nuclear power stations and in Alberta, Canada, the ground is being prepared for just such a poll. As pressure mounts in advance of the Australian general election, nuclear energy has become something of a political football. The Liberal coalition government’s pronouncements in support of uranium sales to India – in advance of several negotiating steps – was said to be a ruse to provoke the opposition Labor party into slighting India. Meanwhile, pressure from Labor on Prime Minister John Howard’s support for nuclear power has prompted him to first declare future nuclear power sitting decisions to be commercial matters, and now to voice support for votes in areas nearby proposed sites despite the fact that nuclear power in Australia remains at least a decade away.
In Canada, plans to build two new nuclear power plants in Alberta will be subject to a poll of residents in Woodlands County, where Energy Alberta has bought land. The company would like to build two AECL ACR-1000 reactors to supply electricity directly to oil sands extraction enterprises in the north of the province. Energy Alberta believes there is potential for up to 11 such machines for industrial and domestic power supply in the province. Woodlands Country Council voted on 21 August to conduct a poll after earlier retracting a letter of support for Energy Alberta’s plans. Council members have said they still support the development, reported to be worth C$6.2 billion ($5.8 billion), but need more information. Another area, Peace River, has also expressed interest in the project.
The news of such direct community involvement in nuclear decisions comes after a telephone poll of Americans living near nuclear power plants. The poll, sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute, showed that the majority supported the plants, and accepted their operation as safe. Some 71% said they would think it acceptable to build a new reactor at their plant if it were needed to supply electricity. Such acceptance from poll outcome would not be different in context of electricity generation from nuclear power plant in Nepal. What do you say?
The electricity generated from nuclear power plant will glint villages in every nooks of Nepal. For the placement of power plant, it should be located in the mid and far western region of Nepal for the safety purpose as shown in our model of Fig. 1 considering the low population density and the remoteness. The nuclear design should be implemented underground in the suitable valley based geography as Nepal is blessed with 75% of mountainous terrain. The USA has done many nuclear tests experiment in the underground without being released in air contamination. Therefore, the valley based and underground power plant installation will definitely secures the disaster. As shown in Fig.1, in case of emission or diffusion of nuclear materials, the radiation would be blocked by the surrounding valleys and mountains. The construction should be highly engineered understanding the geotechnical aspects of theNepal’s geology.
Fig. 1 General Model of the Nuclear Power Plant Installation in Nepal. © http://www.deathearth.org
For Nepal, there are two ways to equip with electricity: 1) either exploit the usable 45000MW of hydroelectricity in short period of time so that every village has a 24 hr light in their houses or 2) go for ‘One Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) for all Hydel’ system. The snail pace development of hydroelectricity means just to survive because over a period of time, the increasing demand by expansion of population and industries need more demand. Let our vaunted about water resources either has to come to ground reality or follow the next option like NPP. Once the option two is followed, the majority of the investments can be vested to drinking water supply and other developmental projects. The development of nuclear power plant means to save our time and energy which can be vested in other fruitful developmental projects which enhances the development of country in the end.
The government of the northern Indian state of Haryana, one of the country’s most industrialized states, reportedly plans to construct a 1600 MW nuclear power plant by 2012 in order to meet growing demand. The state has a demand of 8900 MW, but currently generates just 1587 MW. Haryana receives 4000 MW of electricity from India’s central pool. In order to continue attracting investors, the state is turning to nuclear energy as it lacks resources such as coal, gas or wind. The plant, which would cost some $2.5 billion, would be built with the assistance of Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL). The plant would be sited at the village of Kumaharia, near Fatehabad. An unidentified Haryana government official said, “The funding for the entire project will be borne by the state government.” Current Indian laws currently only allow NPCIL to set up nuclear power plants. However, if the nuclear cooperation agreement between India and the USA is completed, this could change to allow private sector companies and other state-owned companies to construct such plants. Why not Nepal set up nuclear energy source for electricity rather than lagging behind with hydroelectricity having such agreements through diplomatic ties?
It is time either to absolve completely the electricity problem across nation by hydel or jump to nuclear power plant, or can move hand in hand. Now, no more boasting of our natural resources that is un-exploitable in environmental friendly way. It is only the perceptive vision of the herald leaders that drives exodus to destiny. The technical knowledge from hydropower should also strengthen towards nuclear power plant.Nepalshould not lag behind by blaming the unstable geology and physical inaccessibility in this new era of science and technology. Ponder upon it. We are there to move towards Nuclear Power if the hydel doesn’t resolve the problem. Will you join with us?