Nuclear Energy Development in ASEAN

Posted on August 15, 2011 by

Nuclear Power is under serious review and discussions, given the recent Fukushima incident in Japan, following the Tsunami. This however has not deterred the Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines from creating legislations and plans to harness Nuclear Power as a safe, efficient and sustainable energy source.

Vietnam has significantly developed the legal framework for building nuclear capabilities since March 2010. The country aims to implement its energy development plan that includes 14 nuclear reactors by 2030. Implementation of this plan would provide boost to both foreign and domestic investment. Meeting the targets set for itself by Vietnam would mean that 10% of national electricity capacity by 2030 would come from 15,000 MW of nuclear power.

Indonesia has been running nuclear infrastructure since 40 years. In 2010, Indonesia created the Presidential Regulation No. 5, creating the mid-term national development plan for nuclear power plants (NPP) during 2010-2014. Three nuclear sites in Banten, Bangka and the Muria Peninsula have been designated for the development of these nuclear power plants.

The Philippines built the Baatan plant in 1984 and it coult not be successful after a political conflict. This highlights the necessity of broad based government and public consensus on the nuclear programs.

These three countries are members of WTO and also committed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) members. Driven by China and India, Asia is one of the fastest growing regions for nuclear development. Also, the surging demand and lagging energy infrastructure addition have ensured that Southeast Asia experiences power deficits, with Vietnam expecting a power shortage of approximately 128bn kWh in 2020.  This is necessiating capital investments in the area of alterntive energy. Though loaded with highers initial capital costs, nuclear power plants over a long term basis can generate cheaper electricity than conventional energy generation.

The region-specific challenges these countries would need to overvome the following challeges to make their nuclear power plans a success are as under

  • First challenge – Employing skilled technicians. It is partly addressed in Vietnam by implementing a training program.
  • Second challenge – Public policy concerns driven by location such as seismic zones and potential natural disasters.
  • Third challenge – the availability of funding for NPPs, which could be tackled by focusing on encouraging foreign investment with NPP construction experience.

Tackling these challenges systematically will enable significant and scalable deployment of nuclear power in southeast asian region.

Posted in: Technologies