I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
India Being Socially Innovative for a New Type of Nuclear Power Plant
India is harnessing social innovation by announcing plans for a new type of nuclear power plant that uses a safer fuel. A site is currently being selected to locate the reactor, which would be the first of its kind, using thorium for the bulk of its fuel instead of uranium, which is the fuel for conventional reactors. India plans to have the plant up and running by the end of the decade.
Using thorium, which is a naturally occurring moderately radioactive element as a source of atomic power, is not new technology. There was hopeful early research carried out in the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s; however, it was abandoned in favour of using uranium. Pro-thorium lobbyists believe this was probably because the national nuclear power programmes in the U.S. and elsewhere were developed with a military ambition, namely access to a source of plutonium for nuclear weapons. Producing a workable thorium reactor would be a big social innovation breakthrough in energy generation.
Environmentalists have dreamed for ages of this social innovation development of workable and large-scale thorium reactors because it provides a hopeful alternative to fossil fuels. Some researchers say it has significant advantages over uranium as thorium is more abundant. Plus, exploiting it does not involve release of large quantities of carbon dioxide, making it less dangerous for the climate than fossil fuels like coal and oil.
The reactor will be designed to generate 300MW of electricity, which is about a quarter of the output of a typical new nuclear plant in the west. The reactor aims to be smaller, cheaper and competitive. Plus, uranium, thorium-fuelled reactors do not result in a production of weapons-grade plutonium. Currently, governments are very concerned and sensitive about how to deal with nuclear waste and worried about the prospects of terrorists getting their hands on plutonium. Also, with the world's supply of uranium rapidly depleting, attention and social innovation has once again focused on thorium, which is three to four times more abundant and 200 times more energy dense. Moreover, waste from thorium reactors if handled correctly is less dangerous and remains radioactive for hundreds rather than thousands of years.
India is in the spotlight; it has the world's largest thorium deposits and with a world keen for renewable energy, India is in a strong position. It has the potential to create a very wealthy market for itself by exporting it social innovation technology. This country in the developing world now has every opportunity to lead the way and give the west low carbon energy choices.
Photo Credit: gbSk