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Why Obama should stop pushing nuclear energy on India via The Washington Post

The White House is claiming victory for a breakthrough in the impasse with India over nuclear energy. Indian laws have held suppliers, designers and builders of nuclear plants liable in case of an accident and this made U.S. companies fearful of doing business there. During his recent trip, President Obama persuaded India’s government to create an insurance pool to compensate victims of a potential disaster and to cap the liabilities of companies supplying the technology.

This is hardly a victory for the United States or for India. It no longer makes sense for any country to install a technology that can create a catastrophe such as Chernobyl or Fukushima — especially when far better alternatives are available. Technologies such as solar and wind are advancing so rapidly that by the time the first new nuclear reactors are installed in India, they will be less costly than nuclear energy. Most importantly, the alternative technologies are cleaner and safer.

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Solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. At this rate, solar is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting practically all of today’s energy needs. Even with this, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.

In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia and parts of the United States and India, residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices.  In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies — without government subsidies. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases.  By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world.  Prices will keep dropping and efficiency will keep increasing even after this. In the late 2020s, these will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel- and nuclear-based alternatives do.

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