RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. — The following is an open letter I have sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi:
“I am an environmentalist, so I am rather dismayed at your signing several deals with USA, Canada and Australia for the items related to nuclear plants. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan, many nations have realized that not only are nuclear plants too costly to build, they are outright dangerous. Over the years, the world has seen nuclear disasters like Chernobyl in Russia, Three Mile Island in America and Fukushima in Japan. These are three famous ones, but there have been many more accidents around the world. Nuclear plants are not only unsafe but are very costly and take at least 10 years to build. In addition, the nuclear fuel uranium is also a limited resource which will one day be gone.
“Many countries of the world are now moving rapidly towards renewable solar and wind energy. Denmark is a leader in green energy field. It is pursuing the world’s most ambitious policy against climate change. It plans to stop fossil fuel use totally by 2050. More than 40% of their power comes from renewable energy today which mainly consists of wind power. They are planning to go 50% renewable energy by 2020.
“After the Fukushima disaster, Germany has shut down all its nuclear plants and shifted massively towards solar and wind energy. Germany is now moving rapidly towards total renewable energy by 2050. Today, it meets more than 27% of its electricity demand by solar and wind energy.
“Not to be outdone by other countries, China, USA, and UK are also moving rapidly towards energy independence from fossil fuels. USA TODAY reported last February that the American state of California inaugurated the world’s largest 550-megawatt solar plant, in the town of Desert Center, California where it will generate electricity 365 days a year producing zero carbon emissions. A recent report in Global Possibilities pointed out that Scotland generated 49.8% of its electricity from renewables, effectively meeting its target of generating half of its electricity demand by the end of this year. Their plan is to generate 100% of its electricity demand by 2020.
“Japan has almost done away with nuclear plants after the Fukushima disaster. So has Germany.
“Dear Prime Minister, all the industrialized countries are rapidly moving away from nuclear energy, as it is dangerous, costly and non-sustainable. Nuclear plants are accident-prone and costly to maintain. India has to request other countries to supply us uranium at a heavy cost. The worst part of it is no country to date has found a solution for the safe disposal of used nuclear fuel, which is radioactive for a hundred thousand years or more. America, Russia, and France possess millions of tons of used nuclear fuel which they do not know where to store, let alone where to dispose of it. The case is the same with Japan, UK and China. Then why should India go for such a dangerous source of energy when solar and wind power are forever and so abundant especially in India. India gets intense sunlight some 200 days a year. Why can’t we install thousands of solar panels in Thar Desert, generating enormous amount of electricity? Why can’t we install thousands of mirrors generating many gigawatts of electricity from solar thermal power? We have 7,500 kilometers of coastline, one of the longest in the world. Besides thousands of windmills on shore like you have done in Gujarat, we can install hundreds of thousands of windmills offshore like they have done in Denmark and Scotland or UK.
“Today, over the last decade, solar and wind power produced electricity is constantly getting cheaper to produce and is closing in price compared to coal or nuclear powered electricity. Coal fired power plants are the worst polluters in the world. Considering all these factors, sir, it makes no sense to go for nuclear power now.
“Prime Minister Narendrabhai, you can invite many of our big industrial power houses like the Ambanis, the Tatas and the Birlas to invest in these 21st century green energy ventures which will be sustainable forever. The solar plants and the windmills will create millions of jobs all across our country which will uplift millions of our poor. The country will become energy independent and will save billions of Rupees that we spend importing polluting Arab oil which is running out anyway.
“When I read your book on the environment, ‘Convenient Action’, that you gave me during our meeting at your residence in Gandhinagar on December 7, 2013, I learned how much you had done for the environment in Gujarat, mitigating the climate change.
“Today, Narendrabhai, you have the power, the will, the courage and the acumen to undertake this major game-changer shifting India’s power needs away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy to sustainable green energy on a massive scale. I am sure, 1.2 billion Indians are with you. More than 20 million diaspora are your avid fans today. Mr. Prime minister, you have the opportunity to change India forever into a developed country with a robust economy run by an energy source that is unlimited and everlasting.
“I very much hope that you will consider this superior option very seriously as I know that you are a very pragmatic man with an extraordinary vision.”