India Points the Way: Small Factory Built Reactors Clearly are an Idea Whose Time Has Come

-David Walters
As an energy activist here in North America, the "left" has taken reactionary anti-technology positions, influenced by the petty-bourgeois "Green" movement that believes energy scarcity is a good thing and that "we all consume too much energy". Of course even the National Bourgeoisie of India would scoff at this sentiment, no matter how much they are tied to US Imperialism.

Indian small reactors have been completely overlooked in the small reactor discussion that occurs among a-political nuclear bloggers, even though only India currently builds and markets advanced small reactors for electrical production. If you want to order a small reactor today, and be assured delivery before 2015, you will need to talk to the Indians. According to Hindu Business Line, NPCIL plans to market its small and mid size reactors to Kazakhstan, South-East Asian countries and African nations.

A proposal for reactor sales to Kazakhstan is already on the anvil, with discussions between NPCIL and the central Asian nation’s nuclear utility Kazatomprom at an advanced stage. According to Government sources, while feelers have also been received from South-East Asian countries, Kazakhstan is likely to be the first breakthrough.

India has been proactively exploring the possibility of exporting indigenous PHWRs to developing nations that are eyeing nuclear power generation but are constrained by small-sized electricity grids. . . . small size nuclear reactors are apt for countries that have small grids of around 10,000 MW. Use of large reactor units in case of countries having small grids could potentially lead to grid failures if even a single large unit shuts down at any point in time.
Besides, assembling clusters of 220 MWe reactors is projected to be more cost-effective than large-sized reactors from the US or Europe, officials said. Several Asean countries are reported to be eyeing the nuclear option, with Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand among those having announced plans to tap atomic energy in the future.

An unnamed official of NPCIL told Hindu Business Line, "Currently, India is perhaps the only country to have an actively working technology, design and infrastructure for manufacture of small reactors with a unit capacity of 220 MWe. These units have a great potential for exports, particularly to nations with small grids that are planning nuclear forays with relatively lower investment levels."
NPCIL has an expanding Internet presence. A downloadable brochure advertises the two reactors. Reportedly capital costs of small Indian Reactors may run as low as $0.90 per watt, but such cost estimates are based on prevailing Indian wage rates.

So...what does it mean for India from the perspective of those fighting for a workers and peasants government? India's undersdevelopment is the result of 300 years of colonialism and imperialism. The Indian state has had a progressive "pro-energy" perspective since Independence. But it is stymied by it's ties to capitalism in general and US Imperialism, specifically. This means signing neo-colonial agreements like last years 1-2-3 nuclear agreement that places the future of India's nuclear technology under the yoke of the U.S. run "Nuclear Suppliers Group".

A Workers and Peasants India, a workers counciler Republic, would aborgate ALL treaties and seek to renotiatate those that hinder India's development. One of these would be that 1-2-3 agreement. Marxists are not adverse to signing bi-lateral national agreements. But it is whose class interests that these agreements need to be renegotiated. Especially energy ones.

The eventual phasing out of coal burning must be a priority. It is likely that 10s of thousands of Indians die each year because of the expansion of coal production. Millions more come down with respiratory and cardiac disease because of it. And not to mention the massive contribution of CO2 into the planets atmosphere.

These small reactors deveoped by Indian's small but highly educated brigade of intellectual workers are one solution. Because they are small...200MWs vs the larger 1000MWs and 1800MWs reactors being built elsewhere in India and around the world, the still developing grid in India is better suited for such small reactors which can be added to *incrementally* as resources (financial, materially, and intellectually) become available. Under a Workers and Peasants council republic, these reactors, converted to burn India's vast quantity of thorium and thus break dependence on the Wests monopoly over uranium supplies, can jump-start the much need rural electrificaiton campaign to bring India's rural masses into the 21st Century.

To achieve this, the overthrow of the Indian capitalist state by India's organized working class is a pre-requisite.

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