Nod for Malaysia’s first nuclear power plant likely soon

Posted on October 27, 2010. Filed under: Energy |

-The Star- KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet is set to give its green light to build the country’s first nuclear power plant by 2021 as stipulated in the recently unveiled Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), but the choice of location remains a secret.

“The Cabinet has more or less agreed that nuclear power is an option,” Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui said at a question and answer session after delivering his keynote address at the ABB Executive Forum yesterday.

He explained that the Government was deliberately looking at nuclear power as an option not only to meet Malaysia’s growing electricity demand post-2020, but also to further diversify the country’s energy mix as well as to ensure future energy security.

“It is very important for us to have a balanced power-generation mix to ensure reliability and security of supply to the people,” Chin explained.

He pointed out that Malaysia was presently “far too dependent on fossil fuels” for power generation, with 95% of the country’s power plant being fuelled by gas (58%) and coal (37%).

According to the ETP handbook, the Nuclear Power Development Steering Committee was already studying the possibility of delivering a twin-unit nuclear power plant with a total capacity of two gigawatts. The first unit is expected to be operational by 2021.

The plan laid out a development timeline of 11 to 12 years from pre-project commissioning.

“But we need to remember to sensitise the nation towards about what it means to deploy nuclear as a power source,” Chin conceded.

He added that his ministry was actively preparing the groundwork and engaging the public and educating them about the pros and cons of having nuclear power in the country.

“Our people have to accept the source without any fear of its traditionally (perceived) risks,” he said.

When asked about the choice of location of the proposed nuclear plant, Chin stressed that it was still a “P&C” (private and confidential) matter due to public sensitivity with regards to nuclear power.

On the cost of the nuclear plant, he said it was still early to talk about it. He expects the initial capital expenditure to be substantial but the operational cost, going forward, “to be quite manageable”.

According to the ETP handbook, building the twin-unit nuclear plant would require an investment of RM21.3bil up to 2020.

On the sale of the 2,400 MW Bakun hydroelectric dam to Sarawak government, Chin clarified that his ministry was not involved in the negotiation, as the Bakun dam was owned by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd.

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