8 Oct (NucNet): Rising electricity demand, growing dependence on imported fossil fuels and environmental concerns have prompted several Southeast Asian countries to consider the role that nuclear power could play in their energy mix, but since the Fukushima-Daiichi accident in Japan the near- to medium-term prospects for nuclear in the region have diminished, a report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency says.
All countries in Southeast Asia that are interested in deploying nuclear power face “significant challenges”, the report says. These challenges include sourcing the necessary capital on favourable terms, creation of legal and regulatory frameworks, compliance with international norms and regulations, sourcing and training of skilled technical staff and regulators, and ensuring public support.
There are no commercial nuclear power plants in operation in Southeast Asia, but there has been interest in developing nuclear power technology including in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
The report says Vietnam has made the most progress, albeit with major delays, and aims to start construction of a Russian-supplied plant in 2019.
A master plan calling for nuclear power to provide about 10 percent of electricity production by 2030 was passed by the government in 2011, the report says.
In 2010, Vietnam signed reactor construction agreements with Japan and Russia under which each country agreed to supply two 1,000-megawatt reactors. Russia was to build the first one, Ninh Thuan-1, with construction slated to begin in 2014 for operation by 2020 and the second plant for operation by 2021.
Construction on the Japanese reactors was scheduled to begin in 2015. But in January 2014, Vietnam announced that the projects had been postponed by four years. Another delay was announced in January 2015, pushing the expected construction start to 2019.
Negotiations regarding financing and technology as well as safety and legal concerns have delayed construction of all these reactors, the report says.
Malaysia has undertaken feasibility studies for the possible introduction of nuclear power, but the government has yet to make a formal decision on whether it will pursue it.
Thailand‘s National Energy Policy Council requested a feasibility study for nuclear power and approved the construction of nuclear capacity in its Power Development Plan (PDP) for 2007-2021, the report says. In each subsequent PDP the capacity target and timeframe for nuclear power have been revised and extended. The 2015 PDP includes two 1,000-MW nuclear power plants to begin operation by 2036.
The report is online: http://bit.ly/1OnknAP