India to share nuclear technology with Sri Lanka - report

[TamilNet, Saturday, 05 September 2009, 20:45 GMT]
India is likely to share its nuclear technology with Sri Lanka for power generation using Thorium as the main source of energy, Science and Technology Minister Tissa Vitharana said Friday. The Daily Mirror newspaper quoted Professor Vitharana as saying India is prepared to support Sri Lanka with setting up a nuclear power plant and that he had requested IAEA support for the project. Professor Vitharana also told the paper he had invited Indian nuclear scientists to conduct a feasibility study on the use of Thorium deposits – said to be found in abundance along Sri Lanka’s southern costal belt – as a source of nuclear energy for power generation.

“I had fruitful discussions with the Indian delegation in Geneva when I attended the IAEA’s annual sessions recently. They are prepared to assist us in utilizing Thorium as a source of energy for a future nuclear power plant and to share the necessary technology as India has successfully developed the use of Thorium for nuclear power generation,” Prof. Vitharana told Daily Mirror.

He said the feasibility study would include such matters as cost effectiveness, safety in use of nuclear material and safety in waste disposal and added that he had spoken to the IAEA requesting its support for the project.

He said India had successfully developed a pilot plant using Thorium instead of Uranium and were now on the verge of commissioning a major nuclear power project with Thorium as the source of energy.

“While we could get the benefit of the new technology developed by India to utilize Thorium as a source of energy, we also need to conduct a proper survey to determine the full extent of Thorium reserves in Sri Lanka. This will be a part of the feasibility study before a final decision is taken to determine whether we turn to nuclear energy to supply power to the national electricity grid,” Prof. Vitharana said.

He said with the world in the throes of a fuel crisis because of increasing demand and diminishing fuel resources, Sri Lanka too would confront major problems in obtaining sources of energy and added that with the defeat of the LTTE, the need for economic development and the reduction of poverty have become major problems for the government.

“This cannot be achieved without adequate and affordable energy and power supply. At present, most of the income derived from the export of tea and rubber is spend to import petroleum products,” Prof. Vitharana said.

He said this situation would get much worse in future and it was essential for Sri Lanka explore the possibility of utilizing locally available fuel resources.

The Alternative Energy Division of the Science and Technology Ministry together with the Sustainable Energy Division of the Power and Energy Ministry have been promoting alternative sources of locally available energy resources for power generation -- mini-hydro power plants, wind, solar and bio-gas.

But these sources cannot completely replace fossil fuel. The ‘Inter Ministerial Committee for Generation of Bio-Fuel’ set up by the Science and Technology Ministry explores the possibility of increasing the use of bio-fuel like Ethanol and Bio-Diesel (Jatropha) for vehicles.

“It is essential to have a major source of energy for the electricity grid in the future. More and more countries are now turning to nuclear energy as a suitable additional source for supplying the electricity grid considering it will take at least 10 years after the decision is taken to develop nuclear energy before it can be generated,” Prof. Vitharana said.


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