Last, but not least, zero-CO2 emission technologies such as nuclear and renew-ables, need to account for a larger fraction of new capacity in order to reduce GHG emissions. The emphasis on these technologies needs to be paramount, and wherever possible substitute for fossil fuel based plants. Nuclear power can play a key role in meeting the electricity demand without CO2 emissions. While operating and safety performance of nuclear plants have improved, and new designs offer safer and competitive generation options, public perception of risk and safety of nuclear power, and ultimate disposal of nuclear waste still remain key challenges facing the nuclear industry. Developing countries, China and India in particular, have continued to make additions to their nuclear generation capacity. While China and India will continue to add to their existing nuclear generation capacity, share of nuclear power in Mexico is likely to continue to decline. Mexico's Laguna Verde plant has two units totaling 1,300 MWe generation capacity and no new unit is planned at this time.
According to the IAEA's power reactor database, by the end of 2008, China had 11 operational reactors (8,438 MWe) and 9 were under construction (8,220 MWe). India on the other hand has 17 reactors in operation (3,782 MWe) and 6 under construction (2,910 MWe) . One key difference in the two countries is the unit size and the choice of technology: while Chinese plants are mostly 1,000 MWe pressurized water reactors (PWR), Indian plants are smaller in size, and have a mix of PWR, and indigenous pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) and a fast breeder reactor (FBR). India does not have abundant natural uranium resources, and has limited technological capability to enrich uranium. Hence, the new nuclear deal with the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will clearly help India in importing uranium. India also has vast amounts of thorium reserves, which can be used in combination with fissile plutonium or uranium, to produce nuclear material for power generation. However the Indian nuclear program is far from being able to exploit thorium due to technological and capital limitations. While nuclear power offers significant potential to reduce GHG emissions, public perception of risk associated with nuclear power, lack of standardization of design and capital intensity of nuclear power remain key obstacles in the short and medium term. Nuclear industry still has to find a safe and secure long-term storage of the high-level radioactive waste generated by the nuclear plants.
Contribution of renewable energy in meeting the power demand in China, India, and Mexico has continued to grow. Over 15% of China's total primary energy consumption and about 30% of India's primary energy consumption in 2005 was met by renewable energy. Biomass was the dominant energy source for meeting cooking and heating demand in rural households . Electricity generation was dominated by hydropower as the renewable source; it contributed 16% of the total generation. Installed wind capacity is 1.3 GW, and expected to reach 5 GW in 2010 and 30 GW in 2030. In the short to medium term, wind and solar power will remain a marginal source of electricity generation in China. However, in the remote areas where distribution network is unavailable, solar power is likely to provide electricity. By 2030, China's expect solar generation capacity is expected to increase to about 9 GW from about 70 MW in 2005. India plans to add significantly to his hydropower capacity, and it remains one of the fastest growing markets for wind power. Biomass based power generation is also another important source of low emissions power in India. Although the growth of renewables in the future is expected to be large, they still only provide meet a small fraction of the power demand in the country. Mexico has been exploiting its geo-thermal resources for power generation. Recent renewed efforts to enhance its renewable portfolio are heavily dependent on installation of new wind-farms. However, as in the case of China and India, renewable energy is not likely to amount for large fraction of power generation in the short-to-medium term.
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