PHDCCI & IYNS Host National Tech Day Symposium: Harnessing Nuclear Energy in India

New Delhi, 13th May, 2024: Padma Vibhushan Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Former Chair, Atomic Energy Commission emphasized the dual challenge of meeting India’s developmental needs while combating the climate crisis as he discussed on the current and future energy consumption scenario in India at PHDCCI’s National Technology Day Symposium, held on Saturday at PHD House, New Delhi.


He discussed on India’s goal of a developed nation and said, in this journey the nuclear energy is going to play a significant role. He further Informed, while there is 6-8 million tons of uranium and 6 million tons of thorium is available worldwide, we have 0.3 million tons of uranium and 1 million tons of thorium in India. He emphasized the importance of effectively utilizing thorium until fusion energy becomes viable.

Dr. Kakodkar further highlighted the importance of India’s domestic self-reliance program, particularly the advanced deployment of thorium in PHWRs, which would reduce uranium requirements and total reprocessing capacity. Leveraging thorium would allow for rapid capacity expansion while maintaining a manageable fuel cycle, he added.

He also suggested of leveraging Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation for the development and deployment of thorium-based fuel.

In conclusion, he discussed that decarbonisation is unavoidable to sustain our existence. While renewable energy is crucial, nuclear energy remains a clean baseload energy option available for facilitating a cheaper integration of variable renewable energy. Lastly, he urged for scaling up nuclear deployment to support India’s development aspirations effectively

Dr. Shailesh Nayak, Padma Shri Awardee, Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies emphasized the need for transitioning to the next level while meeting sustainable goals with energy being a critical aspect. He stressed that nuclear energy is an essential option and that current policies need to be reviewed to ensure they are conducive to its development. He highlighted the critical involvement of the industry and the need for policies to be reconsidered. Dr. Nayak also discussed the importance of revitalizing regulatory boards and initiating a dialogue on the necessary changes.

Furthermore, he added that depending on capabilities and requirements, India should aim to develop nuclear technology to the level of developed countries and export it to others as well. He further discussed that now diplomacy is not only related to trade and policy but also involves science and technology.

Dr. A.K. Nayak Head, Nuclear Controls and Planning Wing, Department of Atomic Energy, discussed the ambitious goals of achieving a $35 trillion economy and becoming a developed nation by 2047.

He emphasized the necessity of nuclear power, stating that while there was a previous perception that India could achieve clean energy goal solely through renewable energy, this is not entirely correct. He highlighted the goal of reaching several hundred GWs and pointed out that while electricity currently accounts for only 20% of India’s consumption, 80% is driven by coal, petroleum, and gas. Achieving these goals requires proper planning, dedicated efforts, and multiple partnerships.

Mr Nayak further stressed the importance of decarbonizing the entire ecosystem, emphasizing the need for local energy sources to make India energy secure. He highlighted the necessity of policy changes, stating that without nuclear energy, India cannot achieve true development. He urged for a change in the perception of nuclear energy, addressing the taboo surrounding it and emphasizing the urgent need for policy implementation.

He pointed out that by 2050, most coal plants will retire, leaving room for small modular reactors (SMRs) to replace them. He further suggested that replacing brownfield sites with SMRs could generate up to 1000 GW of electricity.

Dr.Suneel Pandey, Director, Circular Economy & Waste Management, TERI discussed on the environmental aspects of nuclear energy, highlighting the emissions generated, such as thermal discharge, which affects coastal waters. He emphasized that the depleted fuel and the cooling process result in radioactive waste with high radioactivity levels, which need to be treated and vitrified.

Dr. Pandey mentioned that this waste can be used in various applications, providing a resource from what would otherwise be considered waste. He also discussed key issues such as the cost of decommissioning nuclear plants after 30-40 years, the land use post-decommissioning, and whether it is safe for alternative development. Pandey emphasized that these issues require more attention and suggested a customized environmental impact assessment process.

Dr. Ranjeet Mehta, Executive Director, PHDCCI, said technology has made a significant difference in our lives. In 1998, when PM Vajpayee declared May 11th as National Technology Day, it was a dedicated to the youth, scientists, and innovators who have brought global recognition to our nation. With India’s population currently at 1.4 billion, we are one of the fastest-growing economies globally and aim to achieve developed status by 2047.

As we embark on this journey together, one of the biggest challenges we face is climate change. Nuclear energy will play a significant role in our energy basket, and it is imperative to create an ecosystem that promotes its growth and contribution.

He added, PHDCCI is proud to collaborate with IYNS, recognizing that India is one of the youngest nations globally, with a significant portion of its population below 35 years of age. The enthusiasm and innovative spirit of our youth give us hope. I urge all young people to join this innovative journey, raising their voices against climate change. History has shown that revolutions are often led by the youth, and IYNS will play a crucial role in this endeavor. he further expressed confidence that this collaboration is just the beginning of many more initiatives to come, ensuring that every young person in the country joins the fight against climate change.

Dr. Nitendra Singh, President, Indian Youth Nuclear Society said the energy sector is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, contributing significantly to climate change hence decarbonizing the energy sector is important.

India’s ambitious goal of achieving a $35 trillion economy by 2047 and improving its HDI necessitates a substantial increase in total energy consumption. He informed that the estimates indicate that India will require 25,000 to 30,000 TWh per annum of clean energy.

Nuclear energy, with its multiple applications, can collaborate with all low-carbon technologies to achieve net zero emissions targets. It serves as a master of low-carbon base load power supply and can drive decarbonization beyond electricity. India possesses proven competencies and capabilities in nuclear energy, he added.

During the discussion, he emphasized the need for a model shift approach to address these concerns and informed that their solution involves the formulation of policies that are practical and smart, ensuring a smooth transition.

Dr. Samyak. S Munot, Cofounder and CTO, IYNS TechSolution discussed on the Sookshma (SUK-M) calling it India’s first indigenous microreactor, highlighting its features and potential contributions.

Further, he discussed that SUK-M is a completely indigenous design, utilizing fluoride-based molten-salt reactor technology. The reactor incorporates conceptual components such as structural materials, coolant, and piping, which may need to be modified.

SUK-M microreactors can be deployed in various settings, including brownfield sites, remote locations, captive power plants, and isolated areas or islands. Dr. Munot also discussed the role of nuclear energy in addressing water scarcity issues by enabling desalination plants and addressing challenges such as industrial heating and clean hydrogen production.