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Energy Needs in the Context of Climate Crisis

  • 13 May 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, on the occasion of the National Technology Day, Padma Vibhushan Dr. Anil Kakodkar conveyed a message to the people of India about ‘Dealing with energy needs in the Context of Climate Crisis’.

  • National technology day marks the anniversary of the Pokhran Nuclear Tests of 1998 that strengthened Indian national security.
    • India successfully test-fired its Shakti-1 nuclear missile in operation called Pokhran-II, also codenamed as Operation Shakti.
  • After the tests, India has entered into many international agreements to promote nuclear commerce for peaceful purposes and to secure energy security through nuclear energy.
    • Nuclear commerce in general refers to a worldwide trade centered on nuclear energy.

Key Points

  • HDI and Energy Consumption:
    • Dr. Kakodkar highlighted the correlation between Human Development Index (HDI) and Per Capita Energy Consumption all over the world.
    • As per the statistics, countries with higher HDI have higher per capita consumption of energy.
    • HDI emphasizes that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone.
  • Energy and Climate Security:
    • However, developing countries like India, on the other hand, face the challenge of choosing between energy security and climate security. It is important to strike a balance between enhancing the quality of human life as well as keeping a control over the climate crisis.
  • Emission Targets:
  • Decarbonisation:
    • Zero emission targets can be easily met by the use of nuclear energy. It can also reduce the cost of deep decarbonisation.
    • Decarbonising means reducing carbon intensity, i.e. reducing the emissions per unit of electricity generated (often given in grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour).
    • Decarbonisation is essential since the demand for electric power from industries/commercial sectors is high.
    • It is possible by increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources, particularly renewables like solar, hydro and biomass (Biofuels) together with nuclear which can greatly contribute in achieving zero emissions.
  • Comparison:
    • Japan saw the negative effects of nuclear energy (bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki) yet it has drafted an energy plan, to generate 20% to 22% of their total energy consumption as nuclear energy and to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030.
    • Germany had also planned to cut GHG emissions by 2020 which has allotted huge amounts of production of renewable energy.
    • India, in order to decarbonise the energy consumption, needs a 30-fold increase in renewable energy, 30-fold increase in nuclear energy and doubling of thermal energy which would make 70% of energy carbon free.
  • Actions Required:
    • Different levels of consumption strategy need to be observed by different countries based on their HDI so that they can actively contribute towards low/zero emissions. For example:
      • Countries with high HDI, should reduce their energy consumption since it may not affect their HDI, much. They should also decarbonise their electricity generation.
      • Countries with moderate HDI should focus on non-fossil electricity consumption.
      • Countries with low HDI should be able to provide subsidised sources of cleaner energy to their citizens.
  • Concerns and Solutions:
    • Management of nuclear waste, that is produced during energy generation, is a major concern.
    • To tackle the problem, India adopts the policy of ‘Nuclear Recycle Technology’.
      • Under it, the nuclear fuel- Uranium, Plutonium etc, once used for generation of energy, is reused as a resource material by the commercial industries to be recycled.
      • More than 99% of nuclear waste is reused as the waste management program in India prioritises recycling.

Source: PIB

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