12th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘International Solar Alliance (ISA)’
(GS2: Global groupings)
Issue: India announced one of the world’s largest investment plans in solar energy at the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The $1.4 billion line of credit will cover 27 projects in 15 countries and boost the much-required financial power to the solar sector.
The Founding Conference was co-chaired by Mr. Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron. Mr. Modi presented a 10-point action plan aimed at making solar power more affordable while raising the share of power generated.
What is ISA?
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then French President Francois Hollande at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris on November 30, 2015. The idea was to form a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps in their energy requirements through a common approach. Towards this, the ISA has set a target of 1 TW of solar energy by 2030. The framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 121 countries have joined.
The ISA is open to 121 prospective member countries, most of them located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn as this is the region worldwide with a surplus of bright sunlight for most of the year.
Apart from being a founding-member, India plays a significant role in the alliance in terms of being a host as well as a major contributor to the achievement of the target. The ISA is the first international body that will have a secretariat in India. The secretariat is located in Gurugram. India, with a target to produce 100 GW of solar energy by 2022, would account for a tenth of ISA’s goal. India will produce 175 GW electricity from renewable sources by 2022 and 100 GW will be from solar energy
India will also provide 500 training slots for ISA member-countries and start a solar tech mission to lead R&D
(GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: India and France sign 14 pacts in areas ranging from defence to nuclear energy after extensive talks between PM Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron
MoU or agreements signed during this meeting
1. Agreement between India and France on the Prevention of Illicit Consumption and Reduction of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Chemical Precursors and Related Offences: The Agreement shall facilitate the two countries in combating illicit traffic and consumption of drugs and will also impact on financing of terrorism.
2. India-France Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement: This agreement will facilitate temporary circular migration based on mobility and the encouragement for a return of skills to the home country.
3. Agreement between India and France to facilitate Mutual Recognition of Academic Qualifications
4. Memorandum of Understanding between Ministry of Railways and SNCF Motilities, France on technical cooperation in the field of Railways: The purpose of this MoU is to build upon and deepen the mutual cooperation and focus on priority areas of high speed and semi-high speed rail; station renovation modernization of current operations and infrastructure; and suburban trains.
5. Letter of Intent between India and France for creation of a permanent Indo-French Railways Forum.
6. Agreement between India and France regarding the provision of reciprocal logistics support between their Armed Forces: This Agreement shall facilitate the reciprocal provision of Logistic Support, Supplies and Services between the Armed Forces of the two countries during authorized port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts etc.
7. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and France on cooperation in the field of Environment: The MoU aims to establish a basis for exchange of information between the Governments and technical experts of the two countries in the field of environment and climate change.
8. Agreement between India and France on cooperation in the field of Sustainable Urban Development: The Agreement will allow exchange of information on smart city development, development of urban mass transportation systems, urban settlements and utilities etc
9. Agreement between India and France regarding the exchange and reciprocal protection of classified or protected information: This Agreement defines the common security regulations applicable to any exchange of classified and protected information
10. Implementing Arrangement between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Central National D’EtudesSpatiales (CNES) for pre-formulation studies of a Maritime Awareness Mission: The Agreement would provide end-to-end solution for detection, identification and monitoring of vessels in the regions of interest for France and India.
11. Industrial Way Forward Agreement between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, and EDF, France: This agreement prescribes a way forward for the implementation of the Jaitapur nuclear power project.
12. Bilateral Arrangement between India and France on cooperation in the matter of Hydrography and Maritime Cartography
13. Credit Facility Agreement between India and France of Euros 100 million for funding of the Smart City Projects through a Challenge Process
14. Memorandum of Understanding between National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Ministry of New & Renewable Energy and the National Solar Energy Institute (INES), France
History of India-France ties
India and France have traditionally close and friendly relations. In 1998, the two countries entered into Strategic Partnership which is emblematic of their convergence of views on a range of international issues apart from a close and growing bilateral relationship
The areas of defence cooperation, space cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation constitute the three principal pillars of our Strategic Partnership.
Apart from these traditional fields of cooperation, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation like climate change, sustainable growth and development, the International Solar Alliance etc
India and France support a multi-polar world order. France has continued to support India’s claim for permanent membership of the Security Council and the reforms of the United Nations. France has provided consistent support to India’s candidature for the membership of Multilateral Export Control regimes, viz. NSG and MTCR. France’s support was vital in India’s accession to MTCR in June 2016.
India and France have consistently condemned terrorism and have resolved to work together for adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN. During the visit of then President Hollande in January 2016, India and France also issued a Joint Statement on Counter Terrorism in which the two countries resolved to step up their bilateral cooperation in this field.
Both India and France have important bilateral investments and trade and commercial cooperation. Almost 1000 French companies are present in India with a total turnover of US$ 20 billion and employing 300,000 people in India. French companies have more than 25 R&D centres in India. France is the ninth largest foreign investor in India with cumulative investment of US$ 5.15 billion from April 2000 to May 2016 which represents 1.5% of the total FDI inflows in India. In France, about 120 Indian companies are present with an estimated investment stock of Euro one billion and employing 7000 people.
In 2016, the total trade in goods between India and France stood at Euro 8.58 billion, registering an increase of 0.49% from 2015. The trade surplus remains in India’s favor for the past ten years with Indian exports to France in 2016 standing at Euro 4.67 billion and French exports to India at Euro 3.90 billion. However, the overall volume of bilateral trade remains low with Indian exports to France being a meagre 1.06% of France’s total imports. Bilateral trade in services stood at Euro 3.41 billion in 2015 which remains in India’s favor with India’s share of Euro 1.72 billion of exports.
Indian culture enjoys wide admiration among the people of France. ICCR regularly sends Indian cultural troupes to France. An Indian Cultural Centre is proposed to be opened in Paris. The building for the Cultural Centre which was acquired for the purpose is to undergo renovation for which the tenders have been floated.
Cooperation in the field of S&T and Education
In the field of S&T, the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advance Research (CEFIPRA) based in New Delhi established in 1987 is playing a major role by funding joint proposals for research in sciences and evaluation existing research projects. Joint Indo-French research projects funded by CEFIPRA have led to several patents. CEFIPRA also awards Raman-Charpak scholarships since 2013 to Indian and French scholars.
‘Jaitapur Nuclear power plant’
(GS3: Infrastructure related to energy)
Issue: The leaders of France and India reiterated their intention to start work by the end of this year on what could become the world’s largest nuclear power plant, advancing talks that have continued for nearly a decade.
Once installed, the Jaitapur project will be the largest nuclear power plant in the world, with a total capacity of 9.6 gigawatts
International equipment makers have been hesitant to move forward with projects in India because the nation’s nuclear liability law exposes reactor suppliers to claims for damages during an accident. That complicates India’s plans to expand its nuclear power capacity more than ninefold by 2032. India’s nuclear power capacity is about 6.8 gigawatts, barely 2 percent of the country’s total generation capacity.
About Nuclear Power Corporation of India
Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is a Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),Government of India. The Company was registered as a Public Limited Company under the Companies Act, 1956 in September 1987 with the objectives of operating atomic power plants and implementing atomic power projects for generation of electricity in pursuance of the schemes and programmes of the Government of India under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962. NPCIL also has equity participation in BHAVINI, another PSU of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) which implements Fast Breeder Reactors programme in the country.
“To be globally proficient in nuclear power technology, contributing towards long term energy security of the country.”
The Mission of the Company is ‘To develop nuclear power technology and to produce nuclear power as a safe, environmentally benign and economically viable source of electrical energy to meet the increasing electricity needs of the country’.
- To maximize the power generation and profitability from nuclear power stations with the motto ‘safety first and production next’.
- To increase nuclear power generation capacity in the country, consistent with available resources in a safe, economical and rapid manner, in keeping with the growth of energy demand in the country.
- To continue and strengthen activities relating to nuclear power programme within the organisation and those associated with it.
- To develop personnel at all levels through an appropriate Human Resources Development (HRD) programme in the organisation with a view to further improve their skills and performance consistent with the high technology.
- To continue and strengthen the environmental protection measures relating to nuclear power generation.
- To continue and strengthen the neighborhood welfare programme/CSR activities for achieving inclusive growth of surrounding population.
- To share appropriate technological skills and expertise at national and international levels.
- To bring about modernization and technological innovation in activities.
- To coordinate and endeavor to keep the sustained association with the other units of DAE.
NPCIL has voluntarily taken up Environment Stewardship Programme (ESP), besides fulfilling regulatory and statutory requirements. The programme focuses on the scientific study of bio-diversity, particularly avifauna, within and around Exclusion Zones (EZs) of Indian nuclear power plants for the conservation and improvement of habitat in association with nature conservation institutions.
India’s Nuclear energy power programme:
India’s three-stage nuclear power programme was formulated by Homi Bhabha in the 1950s to secure the country’s long term energy independence, through the use of uranium and thorium reserves found in the monazite sands of coastal regions of South India. The ultimate focus of the programme is on enabling the thorium reserves of India to be utilized in meeting the country’s energy requirements.
Thorium is particularly attractive for India, as it has only around 1–2% of the global uranium reserves, but one of the largest shares of global thorium reserves at about 25% of the world’s known thorium reserves. However, thorium is not economically viable because global uranium prices are much lower.
The Indian nuclear establishment estimates that the country could produce 500 GWe for at least four centuries using just the country’s economically extractable thorium reserves
In the first stage of the programme, natural uranium fuelled pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWR) produce electricity while generating plutonium-239 as by-product. PHWRs was a natural choice for implementing the first stage because it had the most efficient reactor design in terms of uranium utilization, and the existing Indian infrastructure in the 1960s allowed for quick adoption of the PHWR technology
Almost the entire existing base of Indian nuclear power (4780 MW) is composed of first stage PHWRs, with the exception of the two Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) units at Tarapur.
In the second stage, fast breeder reactors (FBRs) would use a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel made from plutonium-239, recovered by reprocessing spent fuel from the first stage, and natural uranium. In FBRs, plutonium-239 undergoes fission to produce energy, while the uranium-238 present in the mixed oxide fuel transmutes to additional plutonium-239. Thus, the Stage II FBRs are designed to “breed” more fuel than they consume. Once the inventory of plutonium-239 is built up thorium can be introduced as a blanket material in the reactor and transmuted to uranium-233 for use in the third stage.
The surplus plutonium bred in each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors, and might thus grow the Indian civil nuclear power capacity till the point where the third stage reactors using thorium as fuel can be brought online, which is forecasted as being possible once 50 GW of nuclear power capacity has been achieved.
The design of the country’s first fast breeder, called Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), was done by Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR). Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini), a public sector company under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), has been given the responsibility to build the fast breeder reactors in India.
The construction of this PFBR at Kalpakkam was due to be completed in 2012
A Stage III reactor or an advanced nuclear power system involves a self-sustaining series of thorium-232-uranium-233 fuelled reactors. This would be a thermal breeder reactor, which in principle can be refueled – after its initial fuel charge – using only naturally occurring thorium. According to the three-stage programme, Indian nuclear energy could grow to about 10 GW through PHWRs fueled by domestic uranium, and the growth above that would have to come from FBRs till about 50GW.
About Nuclear Energy
Everything around you is made up of tiny objects called atoms. Most of the mass of each atom is concentrated in the center (which is called the nucleus), and the rest of the mass is in the cloud of electrons surrounding the nucleus. Protons and neutrons are subatomic particles that comprise the nucleus.
Under certain circumstances, the nucleus of a very large atom can split in two. In this process, a certain amount of the large atom’s mass is converted to pure energy following Einstein’s famous formula E = MC2, where M is the small amount of mass and C is the speed of light (a very large number). In the 1930s and ’40s, humans discovered this energy and recognized its potential as a weapon. Technology developed in the Manhattan Project successfully used this energy in a chain reaction to create nuclear bombs. Soon after World War II ended, the newfound energy source found a home in the propulsion of the nuclear navy, providing submarines with engines that could run for over a year without refueling. This technology was quickly transferred to the public sector, where commercial power plants were developed and deployed to produce electricity.
There are two fundamental nuclear processes considered for energy production: fission and fusion.
- Fission is the energetic splitting of large atoms such as Uranium or Plutonium into two smaller atoms, called fission products. To split an atom, you have to hit it with a neutron. Several neutrons are also released which can go on to split other nearby atoms, producing a nuclear chain reaction of sustained energy release. This nuclear reaction was the first of the two to be discovered. All commercial nuclear power plants in operation use this reaction to generate heat which they turn into electricity.
- Fusion is the combining of two small atoms such as Hydrogen or Helium to produce heavier atoms and energy. These reactions can release more energy than fission without producing as many radioactive byproducts. Fusion reactions occur in the sun, generally using Hydrogen as fuel and producing Helium as waste. This reaction has not been commercially developed yet and is a serious research interest worldwide, due to its promise of nearly limitless, low-pollution, and non-proliferative energy.
Working of a Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor produces and controls the release of energy from splitting the atoms of uranium.
Uranium-fuelled nuclear power is a clean and efficient way of boiling water to make steam which drives turbine generators. Except for the reactor itself, a nuclear power station works like most coal or gas-fired power stations.
Several hundred fuel assemblies containing thousands of small pellets of ceramic uranium oxide fuel make up the core of a reactor. For a reactor with an output of 1000 megawatts (MWe), the core would contain about 75 tonnes of enriched uranium.
In the reactor core the uranium-235 isotope fissions or splits, producing a lot of heat in a continuous process called a chain reaction. The process depends on the presence of a moderator such as water or graphite, and is fully controlled.
The moderator slows down the neutrons produced by fission of the uranium nuclei so that they go on to produce more fission. Control rods are used in nuclear reactors to control the fission rate of uranium and plutonium. They are composed of chemical elements such as boron, silver, indium and cadmium that are capable of absorbing many neutrons without themselves fissioning
‘National Crime Records Bureau’
(GS2: Important aspects of Governance)
Issue: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) celebrated its 33rd Inception Day, on March 11, 2018
NCRB is the Nodal Agency for authentic source of Data on crime, accidents, suicides, and prisons for policy matters and research. Bureau is implementing & monitoring agency for implementation of Crime & Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), a Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Plan of Government of India. The project aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in the country.
NCRB publishes 4 annual publications on Crime, Accidental Deaths & Suicides, Prison Statistics and Finger Prints. These publications serve as principal reference points on crime statistics not only police officers but also for criminologists, researchers, media and policy makers not only in India but abroad well.
‘Renewable Energy Financing’
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: European Investment Bank (EIB) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) Ltd. have signed a loan agreement for a second line of credit (LoC) of Euro 150 million on non-sovereign basis
EIB is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It works closely with other EU institutions to implement EU policy and is also engaged in multilateral financing. More than 90 per cent of its activity is in Europe but it is also a big investor globally. EIB’s activities focus on four priority areas including innovation and skills, access to finance for smaller businesses, infrastructure and climate & environment.
IREDA is the dedicated financing arm of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for financing the renewable and energy efficiency projects and has been spearheading the growth of renewable energy in the country for over three decades. It has financed renewable and energy efficiency projects of financial value of over Rs.34,534.06 crore till date. To meet the financing requirement of renewable energy projects in the country, IREDA has been raising resources from various bilateral and multilateral agencies, Masala bonds, and domestic – taxable and tax-free bonds.
Issue: Scientists have discovered 15 new planets – including one ‘super-Earth’ that could harbour liquid water – orbiting small, cool stars near our solar system.
The stars, known as red dwarfs, are of interest for studies of planetary formation and evolution
One of the brightest red dwarfs – K2-155 that is around 200 light years away from Earth – has three transiting “super-Earths”, which are slightly bigger than our own planet. Of those three “super-Earths”, the outermost planet, K2-155d, with a radius 1.6 times that of Earth, could be within the host star’s habitable zone
The team found that K2-155d could potentially have liquid water on its surface based on three-dimensional global climate simulations.
What are Red Dwarfs?
A red dwarf is a small and relatively cool star on the main sequence, of M spectral type. Red dwarfs range in mass from a low of 0.075 to about 0.50 solar mass and have a surface temperature of less than 4,000 K. Sometimes K-type main-sequence stars, with masses between 0.50-0.8 solar mass, are also included.
Red dwarfs are by far the most common type of star in the Milky Way, at least in the neighborhood of the Sun, but because of their low luminosity, individual red dwarfs cannot be easily observed. From Earth, not one is visible to the naked eye. Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun, is a red dwarf