Nuclear energy not the only option to arrest climate change, says German expert

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, September 4: | Updated: Sep 5 2007, 20:13pm hrs
Nuclear energy is not the indispensable one for ambitious greenhouse gas emission. Other green options should also be used for ensuring energy security as well as for addressing the problems of climate change, according to a noted German expert on applied ecology, Felix Christian Matthes.

Commenting on Indias plan to generate 20,000 MW nuclear energy by 2020 under the recent pact signed with US, Matthes said : There is no doubt that among other technologies nuclear energy plays a crucial role in abatement of greenhouse gases. But the use of nuclear power has been subjected to much controversy since it was introduced in the energy market, particularly relating to safety and investment. Matthes is the coordinator of the energy and climate division of the Berlin-based Institute for Applied Ecology Oko-InstituteV and has many scientific papers to his credit.

According to Matthes on a global scale the nuclear power generation suffered a setback after the Chernobly disaster and other accidents. He said that increasing public resistance to nuclear power in many countries was due to possible accidents, problems of disposal of radioactive wastes, hazards connected with transportation of nuclear materials and possible use of nuclear materials produced in the chain by terrorists and other undesirable elements.

He said that some of the associated risks could be addressed by improved nuclear reactors and governments ensuring safety measures.

Matthes was recently in India to participate in a seminar on India-US nuclear deal.

According to Matthes problem of huge investment is another factor which is responsible for the slow growth of nuclear power worldwide. Comparatively low prices for fossil fuels and strong improvement in competing power production is another cause, he said.

However, the growing debate on climate change has brought back the need for nuclear power on the agenda, especially after the European Union introduced an emission trading scheme. The emission of carbon dioxide being no longer free of charge, nuclear power has been more and more presented as a key technology portfolio of emission abatement options, he said.

Matthes suggested that all the viable options for generating clean power should be undertaken. Nuclear power generation should be one of the options, provided adequate safety measures are ensured. He advocated that clean technologies for power generation was the need of the hour to save the world from warming and climate change.