Energy

India And Russia Partner To Build Nuclear Power Plants — Where’s The US?

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans Wedenseady to work with Russia to build several new nuclear power plants, all while America’s new reactors have been seriously delayed due to regulatory issues and economics.

Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin made their remarks during the commissioning of the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India Wednesday. Modi even took to Twitter to call for more nuclear cooperation with Russia.

India plans to purchase parts and technical expertise from Russia in order build several more nuclear power plants. The country will also increase its investment in Russian nuclear research and development.

India has a rapidly growing nuclear power program and the country plans to get 25 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors by 2050. Russia currently operates 35 nuclear reactors, getting about 19 percent of its electricity from them. The country plans to build 20 new reactors and sell many more to other countries, according to the World Nuclear Association.

America could get less than 10 percent of its electricity from nuclear by 2050, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Of the 59 new nuclear reactors under construction worldwide, only four of them are being built in the U.S., just enough to compensate for shutting down older reactors.

“We have also made headway in bringing nuclear programme to North India,” Jitendra Singh, India’s minister of state, said to the newspaper Indian Express. “Last one year, we have started a plant in Gorakhpur in Haryana. We are also exploring the possibility of Bhiwandi in Haryana, Patiala in Punjab, Bulandsahar in Uttar Pradesh and Dehradun in Uttarakhand. And therefore, we are on a very fast track, not only in expanding but also facilitating it.”

The average American nuclear reactors is 35 year old, nearly obsolete by modern design standards and near the end of 40-year operating licenses. Sixteen American nuclear reactors are more than 42 years old, according to government data compiled and mapped by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Instead of building new modern reactors, the government is planning to simply extend the operating licenses, against the advice of its own technical staff.

“Many in the [nuclear] industry hope that extending the licenses of existing reactors will forestall at least some closings. Nuclear plants were originally licensed for 40 years, but almost all have sought and received 20-year extensions,” The New York Times reported in March.

While a renaissance in new American nuclear reactor construction has been forecast for some time, projects have been delayed or scrapped as a result of an abundance of low-cost natural gas and serious regulatory issues.

Getting regulatory approval to build new reactors can take up to 25 years, while a reactor can be built in merely 10. It took an incredible 44 years to get approval to build America’s newest nuclear reactor due to scandals, red tape and environmental concerns.

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