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India in global deal to emulate power of sun

Brussels, May 24 (INEP): India, along with six other partners ' the EU, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and the US, made history by signing the International Thermo Nuclear Energy Reactor (ITER) agreement today.

“This signifies the start of a major international effort towards developing an energy technology which provides virtually limitless energy for supporting global development,” Dr Anil Kakodkar, secretary, department of atomic energy, and chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, said after initialling the agreement on India ’s behalf.

“Energy is an issue for the whole world but it is much more crucial for the developing world, particularly for India which is one-sixth of the world’s population,” he said.

Kakodkar said the “programme has potential to provide access to a much larger quantum of energy”, for India’s galloping energy needs.

“Even if we are talking about 5,000 kilowatt hour per capita per year, which is nothing compared to the per capita energy consumption of Europe, this very modest target would mean enhancing the electricity consumption in India.”

India is contributing 10 per cent in the form of manufacturing equipment to the ITER project in Cadarache, France. It is expected to produce nuclear fusion energy (fusion that occurs in the sun and the stars) in conditions that will demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion as an energy source.

Fusion has several attractions as a large-scale energy source such as the abundance of basic fuels, no greenhouse gas emissions and no long lasting radioactive waste that can be passed on to future generations.

Dr P.K. Kaw, director of the Institute for Plasma Research who also represented India in Brussels, said India-based industries would manufacture components for ITER, such as the key configurations and other high-tech heating sources and diagnostic equipment.

The project is expected to start in 2007 and be completed in 2015 after which experiments will be commissioned and conducted.

“By 2025, we will have sustained fusion reactors. After that we will have to design and develop demonstration reactors which will eventually produce commercial power,” Kaw explained.

The ITER project is expected to become a commercially viable reality in 2040 at the earliest.

Referring to India ’s contribution, Kaw said: “We also have access to the other 90 per cent of the work done elsewhere. This will get our scientists and engineers trained in those ways also. So it is hoped that by the end of the ITER project, our scientists and engineers will know how to make fusion reactors.”

Dr R.B. Grover, director, Strategic Planning Group, department of atomic energy, said ITER “is a scientific breakthrough for half the world”.

EU commissioner for science and research Janez Potocnik said: “We are making history in two ways. We have made a historic decision in the search of potential energy for the future and we have also made a historic decision about global cooperation the world has never seen until now.”

India was the last member to join the ITER project following the establishment of a joint EU-India energy panel set up to cooperate and address issues of energy security and alternative resources.

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