This article performs an energy audit of the Indian Nuclear Energy Programme over the period 1985-2001. It demonstrates that the annual ratio of output/input over this period is low, thus adversely affecting the net energy output of the programme. This programme is critically dependent upon untested methods of disposal of hazardous wastes. Such methods demand a high-volume Investment in energy, lasting over several decades, to keep them isolated, which further reduces the efficacy of the nuclear programme.

One of the key conclusions of this study is that the Nuclear Energy Programme consumes, so to speak, five times the energy that it is projected to deliver. Such a conclusion is particularly applicable for 1000 MW plant-sizes. The ultimate production of nuclear energy/electricity comes after 15 years but, in order to construct, maintain the plants and stabilize the wastes disposal system, five times that much energy, in the form of precious fossil fuels, is used up. Thus it is energetically unfavorable. Worse still, it is unfavorable in monetary terms too, for the electricity produced will be ten times costlier. This, after investing an extraordinary volume of energy and money to the tune of Rs.20,000 crores.

It thus seems the Nuclear Energy Programme is designed to fritter away scarce energy resources and capital that will pay less and cost more. Coupled with this is the additional fact that the waste disposal systems involved are untested and even speculative. A plea is made herein to halt immediately the effort wasted on an immature energy conversion technology as the Nuclear Energy Programme in India


In any large scale programme of installation of thousands of crores of rupees worth of electricity-generating stations, year after year, it is very essential that we first examine

- Whether the programme supplies more, in fact much more energy than it consumes in its construction, operation and maintenance
- How complete the technology is that is, whether it’s by-products can be used or absorbed by nature in such a way that nothing is ever wasted
- to what extent it affects the health of the environment.

When such a series of exercises were carried out in various parts of the world, it was noticed that nuclear fission technology is immature and not ready for deployment where life exists. We have so evolved that the ecological base assures health, provided we harmonies our behavior with the rest of all that is. That is why nuclear energy is actively driving the life patterns on this globe by optimally situating itself in the sun 150 million kilometers away. Careful nalysis shows that the problem of safety of artificial nuclear power is insoluble. In fact energy audit studies show that without an economical and safe method of disposal of wastes generated by fission technology, the nuclear programme would always be a net consumer of energy. And it was also found, after the most careful of deliberations, that there is no solution at all to the waste disposal problem. Radioactivity should not be created by man in the first place.

Thus, many states in the United States have prohibited the exercise of the nuclear energy option by legislation, unless satisfactorily demonstrated methods of waste disposal are economically and safely possible for all times. (Also the market forces in the US seem to work against adoption of nuclear power.) But, most important, the public are becoming extremely vigilant. Still, there is the other side and America possesses 75,000 MW of the most dangerous nuclear reactors in operation and the commitment is for a total upwards of 100,000 MW. However, many of these have been shutdown indefinitely, although the number of that shutdown is not exactly known. Sweden, with 9,400 MW of nuclear power, has adopted a policy of phasing out nuclear power by 2010 AD. Austria has also renounced the nuclear option, as also the Philippines. In Soviet Russia the citizens have protested against the setting up of a nuclear plant in Krasnodar. In Kaiga, in India, people are up against changing their life styles by buying the dangers of nuclear power.

Since a clear cut energy audit is not readily available for the Indian Nuclear Programme, this article examines the Indian programme by carrying out an energy audit for the period 1985-2001 AD, with the help of available Indian and foreign data. On account of the nature of the problem, safety aspects cannot but be taken into account in the analysis. The capital, operation, construction, maintenance and waste management costs of nuclear plants have escalated considerably since the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters. In view of this, there is an urgent need for a thorough reassessment of the entire nuclear power generation programme. This article purports to highlight the energy aspects of the programme so that an informed debate can be initiated.

The Indian nuclear power programme envisages the construction of Candu type nuclear reactors; the plan is to have a total installed capacity of 10,050 MW by 2001 AD. Candu reactors are the Canadian deuterium-uranium type reactors - heavy water-moderated, heavy water-cooled and natural-uranium fuelled. We extend the methodology of Lovins and Price (1975) so as to be applicable to the Indian nuclear programme.

The method of energy analysis proceeds in two stages. The first stage, called Static Energy Analysis, estimates the energy used in the construction of a single reactor system and also the energy output from the same reactor. The second stage, called Dynamic Energy Analysis, compares the energy output of the whole programme, as a function of time over a given period, with the energy investment into the programme during the same period.

In this study, the unit of mass used is the metric ton. The energy unit used is the kilowatt-hour and the energy of a million kilowatt-hours is denoted as MkWh. We use the symbol kWhe to denote a kilowatt-hour of electrical energy and kWht to denote a kilowatt-hour of thermal energy:

Energy Investments in the Construction of Nuclear Plants

Static energy analysis consists of estimating independently, from aggregated financial data, energy investments for those items for which construction energy data are not available. This category computes the energy used or invested in the construction of capital plant by separating the plant into four components:

1. The Nuclear Reactor and Steam System
2. Electrical Machinery
3. Building and Services
4. Initial Core Assembly

This has been done by Lovins and Price (1975) for the first three items by knowing the cost per kilowatt of the installed power station components 1-3 and using the energy investment data, per unit cost of all four components. This paper updates this energy investment data by using a factor to take into account additional features added in the plants after the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident in March 1979. This factor is the ratio of post-TMI capital cost per kilowatt of installed capacity ($ 2750/kW according to Electrical World, Sept. 1986, p.20) to pre-TMI cost ($ 1100/kW in 1986 constant US dollars) for a 1000 MW nuclear plant. For item 4, the initial core assembly, the paper does the same for the zircalloy cladding used for the natural uranium fuel element housing tubes (fuel rods), after Lovins and Price (1975). For the initial core assembly fuel elements, energy investment figures are available per ton of natural uranium fuel used in the Candu reactors but are dependent on ore concentration.

Lovins and Price (1975) have cited published references giving energy investment figures for two limiting ore concentrations: 03 (w/w%) U308 and 0.007 (w/w%) U308. However, according to Nuclear India (Vol.23/No.1, Special Issue, 1984, p.7): "During the last three decades, various ores totaling 73,000 tons of U3O8 in grades ranging from 0.015 w/w% to 0.07 w/w% U3O8 have been identified". Accordingly, this paper uses the data on energy requirement for the limiting ore concentrations 0.3% and 0.007% to estimate the energy investment to assemble the initial core of uranium oxide elements for the Indian ores of 0.015% and 0.07% concentrations respectively in a Candu reactor of 1000 MW capacity.

The Nuclear Reactor and Steam System

This system, including containment devices, safety and control systems, steam circuits and heat exchangers for a 1000 MW Candu reactor system, has been estimated to have an energy investment of (5025 +1150) MkWht. This is a post-TMI estimate.

Electrical Machinery

This includes generators, power transformers, control and switchgear and distribution links to grid. These have been estimated to require an investment of (4290 + 825) MkWht, post-TMI.

Buildings and Services

This includes the site, offices, and buildings for housing equipment, cooling towers, service requirements and provision of required water supply. The energy investments are estimated to be (2170 + 350)106 kWht.

(The initial core assembly contains an initial supply of fuel amounting to about one-eighth of the total fuel which the reactor will consume in its twenty-five year lifetime. A nuclear station cannot start functioning at all until the complete core has been assembled. This is an investment because the energy and finances for the construction and assembly of the initial core must be spent before the reactor can produce energy. This would be equivalent to having about 15 million tons of coal in a 1000 MW super thermal fossil-fired power station before start-up. The estimate of energy investment for the zircalloy tubes housing the fuel elements in this assembly amounts to (1560 + 150) MkWht (Lovins and Price 1975). The estimate for the energy investment for the fuel elements is made next.)

Uranium Fuel Estimate of Energy Investment

Energy is consumed in the following processes to extract uranium from its ore in the first place and convert to uranium hexafluoride and thence to uranium-oxide pellets.

Mining and Milling for U3O8 Extraction

According to Lovins and Price (1975), ore of 0.3 w/w% U3O8 consumes 0.265 MkWht energy per ton uranium, while ore of 0.007 w/w% U3O8 consumes (0.74(e) + 8.22(f)) MkWh per ton of natural uranium. At a conversion efficiency of 25% for thermal to electrical energy, the energy investment for mining and milling 0.007 w/w% U3O8 ore to useful natural uranium is 11.18 MkWht per ton. This is 42.2 times the energy investment for mining and milling 03 w/w% U3O8 ore. Now the two concentrations are in the ratio 03/0.007 = 42.857 which is within 156% of the energy ratio 42.2 for processing the two ores. The close matching of the energy ratio and the inverse of the concentration ratio is of course to be expected if the same quantity of useful uranium is to be obtained by the mining and milling process. Thus we get the formula

E.C = constant = 0.07826 MkWht, per ton,

where E is the energy investment per ton of uranium extracted in MkWht and C is the w/w% U3O8 concentration in ore. Using this equation the energy investment for mining and milling Indian uranium ores of various concentrations can be computed. On this basis, the energy investment for this part of the process for 0.015 w/w% U3O8 ore works out to 5.2173 MkWht per ton uranium, and for 0.07 w/w%U308 ore to 1.118 MkWht per ton uranium.

Conversion to Uranium Hexafluoride

The mined and milled product is next converted to uranium hexafluoride. All grades of ore require the same amount of energy for this stage which is given by [0.016(e) +' 0.054(t)] MkWh per ton uranium. Using the factor 4 to convert electrical to thermal units we get the energy invested for conversion to uranium hexafluoride to be-0.118 MkWht per ton uranium.

Conversion to Uranium dioxide or Similar Solid fuel Material and Fabrication into Fuel Elements

In this final stage of preparing natural uranium fuel the energy invested is given by [0.048(e) + 0.032(t)] MkWh/tori uranium. Or with conversion factor of 4 for electrical to thermal units we have the energy invested for conversion to uranium dioxide and fabrication to uranium fuel elements to be 0.224 kWht/ton uranium.

Energy Invested to make Initial Core Assembly for a 1000 MW Candu Reactor

A 1000 MW Candu reactor requires initial core of 182 tons of natural uranium fuel. The energy investment for this initial core assembly using 0.015% w/w% U3O8 and 0.07 w/w% U3O8 ores respectively have been worked out and collected in Table 1. From this table we see that a 1000 MW Candu reactor imposes an energy investment for initial core assembly of 1011.8 MkWht for 0.015 w/w% ore and 265.7 MkWht for 0.07 w/w% ore.

Energy Investment for Heavy Water

Lovins and Price (1975) cite the figures of the Heavy Water Division of Atomic Energy of Canada for the estimates for energy required to make a ton of heavy water to be [0.65(e) + 6(0] MkWh. The Candu reactor uses heavy water as moderator of 0.3 ton/ MW and as a coolant of 0.4 ton /MW. Thus for a 1000 MW Candu reactor the heavy water energy requirements are 5990 MkWht, To produce a unit of output under Indian conditions it is more energy intensive than in the EEC or Japan or the US. For instance, the cement industry in India is about 24% more energy intensive than in the West (Jagus [1981]). Since the data used in our paper are for UK conditions as cited in Lovins and Price (1975), the results obtained may be expected to be only a conservative estimate. The Total Energy Investments (post-TMI) have been collected in Table 2 for the separate station components. It may be seen that an investment energy requirement of about 20.000 million kilowatt thours goes towards the construction of a 1000 MW Candu reactor.

Computation of Energy Output from a Nuclear Station

Gross and Net Outputs

A nuclear station sends out an amount of electricity per year which is a fraction of the amount which would be sent out annually if the station operated continuously at its full design rating. This fraction is called the capacity factor. Also, before the electricity reaches the user some of the electricity is used up in heating transmission lines and these are termed transmission losses. The average all- India figure seems to be, in this instance, actually, of the order of 22%. Still let us, for the present, settle for 7.5% losses in transmission and some 3.75% (50% of 73%) in further activities that support electricity generation. On this basis we allow only for 11.25% losses. We shall assume a capacity factor of 62%. On this basis a Candu 1000 MW reactor station delivers energy at the rate of (1000 MW x .62 x 0.8875 x 8760 x 1000) kWh per year which is (4820-19) MkWh per year. A year is taken as consisting of 8760 hours.

Process Inputs to be subtracted from the Annual Output

Annual Uranium Re-load Fuel Requirement

Every year a certain portion of the output goes towards the energy invested in preparing nuclear fuel used to refuel the reactor. For a 1000 MW Candu reactor the requirement every year for refueling is 67 tons of natural uranium. The energy requirement to produce this fuel is given in Table 1. Only because the reactor now would be in operation with its initial fuel, it is assumed that this energy would be directly forthcoming from the reactor itself. Thus, this is directly offset against the electrical output per year. For 67 tons of natural uranium the energy investment is 372.5 MkWh from Table 1 for 0-015 w/w% U3O& ore.

Annual Heavy Water Requirement

Every year about 0.7% of heavy water in a 1000 MW Candu reactor is lost (4.9 tons). The energy required to produce this heavy water is, 42 x 106 kWh which is again, for the same reason as above, subtracted from the annual energy output of the reactor.

Net Output of the Nuclear Reactor

When we subtract items calculated above from the annual output of a reactor of 4820 MkWh, we get for 0.015 w/w% ore, the net electrical output of the reactor to be 4405 MkWK For a 0.07 w / w% U3O8 or the output of the reactor on the same lines works out to 4680 MkWh of electricity.

Static Energy Analysis of a 1000 MW Candu Reactor

The input per year as well as the output year of energy of a 1000 MW Candu reactor have been worked out in the foregoing sections and are consolidated in Table-3, which shows also the annual energy output to annual energy input ratio. Note that the uncertainties in energy input involved are +184. MkWh. For a detailed discussion of these see Lovins and Price (1975). Because of these uncertainties, values for input of (2510 +184) MkWh are all shown.

Energy Investments Neglected in the Analysis

The following energy investments have not been accounted for in the above analysis.

  1. Building electrical transmission and distribution facilities and building special plants like pumped storage hydro schemes that may be required to compensate for the effects of nuclear stations on the security and economics of the grid.

  2. Building supporting facilities for the nuclear fuel cycle - a reprocessing plant, fuel conversion and fabrication plant, transport facilities and a heavy water manufacturing plant. t In an unfolding nuclear power programme, substantial energy inputs are required to build these ancillaries well in advance of obtaining electric power output from the programme. Some of the facilities like the Indian heavy water plants, although highly capital intensive as well as energy intensive to construct, have operated at rather low capacity factors. For instance, the Tuticorin heavy water plant has 20% plant factor, making poor use of the energy invested in constructing them.

  3. Process inputs are considered on the basis of electricity sent out rather than gross energy generated. Hence energy needed to operate auxiliaries will be additional.

  4. Research and development input - a real gargantuan investment.

  5. Administrative overheads: design, safety analysis and precautions, other regulatory efforts, health physics monitoring, accounting, paper consumed and so on.

  6. Alternative land use of all nuclear facilities.

  7. Energy requirements of accidents, requirements for decontamination, evacuation, new construction, and abandonment of land. In Chernobyl an estimate of the energy requirement was upwards of 44,000 million KWh. But the abandoned land - a radius of 30 km or more than 2779 represents an energy input loss of 6,00,000 MW or more based on solar energy input of 240 watts per square meter. With 750,000 people dying from cancer according to one probability estimate, the energy requirements are difficult to quantify except putting it at an inestimably high value (Flavin 1987, Webb 1986).

  8. Energy inputs associated with decommissioning defunct reactors like in Rajasthan for the RAPP unit: One estimate puts the energy requirement at more than the entire life production of the reactor (Lovins, and Price, 1975).

  9. Energy inputs associated with transport, treatment, storage and disposal of low and medium level radioactive wastes.

  10. The disposal and storage of high level wastes: all process and investment requirements for transporting, treating, sorting, retrieving, safeguarding and disposal of high level wastes.

Energy Invested in Waste Storage

The disposal technologies are speculative as is the appropriateness of storage options proposed. In the absence of credible disposal methods, the use of steel canisters for successive 100 years proposed surface storage periods will be examined for energy intensity. These refer to high level radioactive wastes. Over very long periods these energy inputs would equal or exceed, by orders of magnitude, the life time gross outputs of the reactors served.

The average of all the ratios given in Table 3 is 1.85. Let us however consider, as an illustration, the case of 0.015 w/w% U3O8 ore. Corresponding to this, the annual energy output from a 1000 MW Candu reactor would be 4405 MkWh (Table 3). Considering an energy output/input ratio of 1.75, the energy input per year is 2510 MkWh. If we consider a steel canister cited in Lovins and Price (1975) (pp 96-97) for a surface storage tank it consumes 100 kW every year for its maintenance. Thus, annually, the energy used for storage of high level wastes from the reactor works out to 0.876 MkWh. Let us consider an annual energy output/annual energy input ratio of less than 1.75, say 139, and see how many years of surface storage time such a reactor can provide energy for during its lifetime. Note that the ratio 1 -39 corresponds to a plant factor of about 50% without debiting any energy consumed for surface storage maintenance. Multiplying the annual energy input of 2510 MkWh by 139 we get the energy output of the reactor (operating at 62% plant factor) per year (after debiting energy for surface storage) to be 3489 106 kWh per year. Since the output per year before this debit is 4405 MkWh per year, the energy debited to waste storage maintenance works out to (4405-3489, MkWh/yr. Over the 25-year life time of the reactor the energy available for supply to the steel tank is 916 x 25 or 22902 MkWh. The energy consumed by the canister being 0.876 MkWh/yr, the number of years of waste storage served by this reactor is 22902/C876) or 26,144 years.

This is only slightly more than the half life of the dominant isotope of high level wastes such as Plutonium 239, which is 24390 years. Clearly we require at least 500,000 years of storage for this which is about 20 times that made available in the above manner. But this corresponds to about 4 times the energy delivered by the reactor during its entire life-time. Thus the ratio 1.39 considering a bit of 'future services' is just not enough. According to Isaacson and Brownell (1973) the required periods of isolation for actinides like Plutonium 239 and Neptunium 237 are 106 to 108 years! Thus we have to go deep down until there is absolutely no net energy from even a single reactor. Less energy intensive methods are at present not available. Hence in the absence of viable methods already demonstrated and ready for assessment, the existing methods of storage may have to be used for all time.

Lovins and Price (4975) state that 'it imprecisely this very possibility that has led the United States environmental Protection Agency to reject (proposed surface storage methods) as inadequate'. The solution to the high level waste problem is 'transcientific'. The critical problem of disposal is that the degree of permanence needed subjects any scheme to geological requirements and the enormous time span involved reduces the relevance of empirical data to a low value. There is, thus, no scientific evidence that vitrified solidified high level wastes disposed in deep geological formations forming a central repository will remain in one piece, be insoluble, or inert over periods considerably shorter than these. Further, no responsible geologist can offer a guarantee. The disposal should and must be retrievable which then also means surveillance over geological time scales far exceeding the period of human experience of observed cultures (Tolstoy 1986; Boyle 1986; Lovins and Price 1975).

An idea of the mess the nuclear enterprise has landed itself in can be gleaned from the fact that in the US the Department of Energy is "committed to spending 2.5 billion Dollars (about Rs.4000 Crores) over the next five year period till 1992 to solve the high level waste disposal problem. A number of states in the US have enacted legislation denying electric utilities the option to build hew nuclear power plants until proven disposal techniques are developed (Electrical World, July 1986).

Performance of Indian Nuclear Stations

According to an advertisement supplement in the Times of India, October 16,1987 taken out by the Nuclear Power Corporation, the average yearly capacity factor of all the nuclear power plants from 1969 to July 1987 (about 18 years) works out to-46.26%. Compare this with boiling water GE reactors in US (58% for 1968-1984 and 51.2% in 83-84) and for Canada (average life time capacity factor 77.1%). The Indian Nuclear performance in the three recent years has been, on the aggregate, 46.27 for 1985-86, 46.62 in 1986-S7 and 46.67 in 1987-88. Thus, if the Indian Nuclear Power Programme from now on, maintains an average plant (or capacity) factor of 62%, then the overall plant factor between 1969 to 2001 AD would be about 53.4%. But the assumption of a jump from a historical! 46.47% to 62% on a sustained basis for the plant factor may not be warranted for the same reasons that are ascribed for the programme's past performance, with some additional ones thrown in like untried 500 MW designs and probably lack of sufficient heavy water in time, unfamiliar new types of reactors, and, of course, accidents. Thus we may consider a plant factor of 50% as an average plant* factor till 2001 AD from now, for purposes of our analysis and see the implications.

Output/Tnput Ratio for a Plant factor of 50%

With a construction energy input for a 1000 MW Candu reactor per year of 2510 MkWh and an energy output per year corresponding to 50% plant factor and about 11% transmission losses of 3484 MkWh the output per year to input per year ratio would be 1.39. We note that this ratio does not make any allowance for energy required for storage of high level wastes. Thus the output/input ratio for the Indian Nuclear Power programme could easily be less than that indicated by this analysis. On account of economies of scale, as far as the construction energy is concerned, units of less than 1000 MW size would have a lower output/ input ratio than a 1000 MW reactor. For computing the energy balance of the Indian programme to 2001 AD we shall take a ratio of 1.39 and compare it with other ratios for implications.

Energy Balance for the Indian Nuclear Programme 1985-2001 AD

This energy balance will be carried out on the basis of the capacity build-up data furnished in the supplement issued by the NPC in the newspapers on Oct. 16, 1987.

As per data published in an NPC supplement in the Times of India dated Oct 161987 the capacity build-up is as indicated in Table 4: The energy delivered at 62% plant factor and at 50% plant factor is also shown in the Table. It is seen from Table 4 that the energy delivered during the period 1985 to 2001 AD would for 0.015 w/w% U3O8 ore total 200626 MkWh and for 0.07 w/w% ore 216444 MkWh both at 50% plant factor. In both cases transmission losses are assumed to be 11 %. As against this the energy invested in the construction of these plants would be between (194277+14824) MkWh for 0.07 w/w% U308 ore to (201774 + 14824) MkWh for 0.015 w/w% U308 ore. The energy delivered by these plants (at 50% plant factor) during 1985 to 2001 AD would at most therefore equal the heat energy utilized in the construction of these reactors. We should also debit some energy towards maintenance of storage tanks for high level radioactive wastes, against energy delivered during these 17 years. Further, we have not considered construction energy of those reactors which will become operational after 2001 AD but which will have to be taken in hand during the period till 2001 AD.

Thus we see that during this period we get no energy at all on balance from these reactors. Just imagine that society would be paying for this electricity, delivered at 85 paise per kWh, some 17,900 crores of rupees or since the cost of electricity has now become of the order of Re.l/- per kWh Rs.21,000£rores.and society will, on balance, have received nothing because the heat energy of high quality withdrawn from society during this period equals the electricity delivered. The net cost to society is therefore infinite per unit energy received during this transaction.

Today the requirements for construction energy for these nuclear reactors are met mainly by fossil fuels in India. The major portion of high quality energy required for the construction of nuclear plants is consumed as heat in steel and cement An idea of the cost of this heat energy can be obtained from a comparison of heat and electricity inputs in the industrial sector in terms of quantity and cost in India. This is brought out in Table 6. Using a conversion factor of 4, for electrical to thermal kilowatt hours, the total energy input in the industrial sector from table 6 per annum evaluates ;to 652865 MkWht. The electricity consumption per year is 6000 MkWh(e). Thus electricity consumption forms 9.19% of the total energy input the total cost of the other energy inputs coal and petroleum fuels amounts to 4700 crores of rupees. The corresponding energy consumed being 412865 MkWh. Thus the average cost of coal and petroleum fuel inputs is 11.38 paisa.

Now the cost of electricity from 2 x 235 nuclear reactors according to NPC would be 85 paise per unit for units commissioned in 1992. This assumes a capital cost of 15405 rupees per kilowatt of installed capacity. But post TMI and post Chernobyl costs would be nearer 2.5 times this amount if the requisite improvements are incorporated which means a cost (per unit of electricity delivered) of 0.85 x 2.5 or Rs.2.1. If we assume a rise in heat energy cost to, say, 21 paisa per kWh we can expect electricity for a nuclear plant to cost ten times the heat energy cost.

In Table 7, the share of heat and electricity consumptions in the industrial sector is given. The potential for energy conservation in all these is of the order of 20 to 30% only (National Productivity Council, Report oh Utilization and Conservation of Energy, New Delhi, 1983). Thus the nuclear enterprise would consume in these 17 years 1985-2001 high- quality cheap-heat energy of premium fuels by withdrawing these from society and deliver, during this same period, ten times costlier electricity equal to about the quantum of heat taken away. But as brought out in Table 7 less than 10% of energy requirements of the entire society is in electrical form. What is needed to an extent of 95% at any given period and which was available for say 20 pa kWh is replaced by something the requirement for which is hardly 5 to 10 percent and at ten times the cost!

Thus the consumer may be led to change over from his simple equipment to devices using electricity alone which would be costlier both as regards equipment as well as electricity charges. And this is done by the nuclear industry by converting nuclear fuels at 28 percent thermal efficiency. Thus during the 1985-2001 period/in the nuclear industry, fuel stocks consumed are 3.57 units nuclear fuel plus 1.0 unit fossil fuel in the construction of nuclear facilities to give back net 1.0 unit of electricity out of which only 0.05 units are required for use by society. Thus, the overall "efficiency" of energy delivered to society is 0.05/(3.577 +1.00) = 0.0109 or 1.09.%. This is for the period 1985-2001 or some three five year plan periods or more.

What would be the consequences of such a needless conversion? Neither Table 5 nor Table 7 shows such massive need for electricity. The result is entirely predictable. State electricity boards like in Sweden and France having created vast surpluses of electricity from fuel, which could have been directly and enormously (in fact infinitely) more efficiently used for producing heat, now subsidies the use of electricity for heating at low temperatures! Thus the path followed is from generation high quality heat from fossil fuels to build nuclear plants (which output less electricity than the energy used in their construction because of the enormous requirement of energy needed to maintain waste storage devices for infinitely (100million years) long periods) to subsidies immediate use of nuclear costly electricity to produce low quality heat!

France thus sells its electricity across the channel to surplus electricity Britain which is busy creating more surplus electricity by building nuclear plants which the public do not want! And when there is a glut... Look at this report from France (Modern Power Systems, August 1987): EdF has a virtual moratorium on reactor orders and the slowdown in orders from EdF has forced Framatome to close down one plant. Framatome is a nuclear reactor manufacturer. EdF is the French State electricity board. But in the US market forces and public opinion have found other arrangements for meeting the demand ,for energy. And Sweden is phasing out its 9435 MW of nuclear capacity by 2010. But in India we are supposed to look forward to the Fast Breeders as a lasting energy source like France. The potential, for extreme danger, of such lasting sources of untested-for-feasibility reactors, has been vividly brought out by R.E .Webb who made a detailed study of the West German SNR 300 reactor of the fast breeder type and found that it can explode like several Hiroshimas (Webb 1986).

Forests are the perfect way to convert nuclear energy to use, nuclear energy of the most advanced .form, viz. fusion in the sun located safely, ecologically appropriately some 150 million kms away from the earth.


  1. Havin C. (1987) Reassessing Nuclear Power: The Fallout from Chernobyl pp 18-19.

  2. Ghosh S. 1984. "Development: The Real Options". The III. Wkly. Ind. June 24-39. p 43.

  3. Isaacson R.E and Brownell L.E (1973), "Ultimate Storage of Radioactive Wastes in Terrestrial Environments". In OECD-NEA/IAEA. Management of Radioactive Wastes from Fuel Reprocessing. OECD 66 73 02 3. p.955. Quoted in Lovins et al (op cit) p.34 and p.85-86.

  4. Jagus P.J (1981), Energy Profile of the Indian Cement Industry. In "Workshop on Energy: Paper and Cement Industries", The Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India Limited, Bombay. Summary Proc. and Papers, p.303.

  5. Lovins. A.B. and Price J.H (1975), Non-nuclear Futures: The Case for an Ethical Energy Strategy, Harper-Colophen, New York, pp.181-190; pp.96-97.

  6. Tolstey I. (1986), "High Level Waste: No Technical Solution". The Ecologist, vol.16, No:4/5, p.205-209. Also Boyle S. (in the same issue) "Nuclear Waste - The Unsolved Problem".

  7. Webb R.E. (1986),/'Western Reactors: How They Compare With Chernobyl". The Ecologist, op cit. pp,166rl67. Also, "The Health Consequences of Chernobyl". The Ecologist. Op cit. pp.169-170.and The Ecologist No.6,1986 (Vol.16).


Energy Required to Extract Uranium from Ore in Place, Conversion     and Fabrication into Fuel Elements

Process Energy investment in 10 kWht/ton 0.015% w/w% U3O8 ore Natural Uranium 0.07% w/w% U3Os ore
Mining and Milling 5.2173 1.1180
Conversion to UF6 0.1180 0.1180
Conversion to UO2 and fabrication into fuel elements     0.2240 0.2240
Total of 2 and 3 0.3420 0.3420

Grand Total



TABLE - 2: Energy Investment in the Construction of a 1000, MW CANDU Reactor Station

S. No Item Investment in 106 kWht
    0.015 w/w% U3O8 0.07 w/w% U3O8
1 Nucleactor and steam system 5025±150 5025±150
2 Electrical Machinery 4290±825 4290±825
3 Buildings and Services 2170 ±350 2170±350
4 Heavy Water


5 Sub Total (1-4) 17,505 ±1325 17505+ 1325
6 Initial Core Assembly(182 tons natural uranium)    
6.1 Mining, Milling, ''conversion and fabrication into fuel elements 1020  
6.2 Zirconium cladding for fuel rods 1560 ± 150 1560 ±150
6.3 Total of 6.1 and 6.2 2572 ±150 1826+150
7 Grand total of 5 and 6.3 20077±1475 19331±1475
8 With 8 year construction period Energy Investment per year 2510 + 184 2416 + 184

Author:R. Ashok Kumar

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