Malaysia to adopt nuclear route to augment energy sources

October 20th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 20 (IANS) Malaysia is to go in for nuclear energy as an alternative source of power generation by 2020 and a paper identifying sites for installing nuclear plants would be submitted to the cabinet by the year end, it was announced Monday.The paper would identify the criteria and sites suitable for the location of nuclear plants in the country, said Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadillah Yusof.

He said the paper was being worked out by members of his ministry and the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry.

“The Energy, Water and Communications Ministry is currently fine-tuning the paper. The sites must be on a rocky, stable base and close to water. We have a few potential areas in mind,” he was quoted as saying by the staronline.

“Once the paper is approved as policy, then we can begin the next step,” Yusof told reporters after launching the Asian Nuclear Safety Network Caravan at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here Monday.

“Although the initial investment for a nuclear plant is huge at around RM 6 billion or more, the power generation in the long run is more economical,” he added.

Malaysia’s announcement of going in for nuclear energy comes soon after India this month signed a civil nuclear deal with the US and secured a waiver from the 45-member nuclear suppliers group (NSG).

Malaysia has for many years been developing its oil and gas capacities and Petronas is the national oil company.

The Malaysia Nuclear Agency had looked at the possibility of 19 sites back in the 1970s and 1980s, but had abandoned these after the expansion of oil and gas industry in the country, Yusof said.

“Some of these sites have now been developed so both Tenaga Malaysia and the agency will have to look at new locations,” he said, adding that the nuclear plant, if approved by the cabinet, would be located in Peninsular Malaysia.

The development and building of a nuclear plant would be a 100-year investment because it would take some 20 years before this could even be constructed, he said.

“It will then take 60 years to operate it and another 20 years to decommission an old plant,” he said.

Yusof said his ministry was also embarking on a programme to instil awareness in public about the advantages of nuclear energy so that they don’t face resistance later.

“Many developed countries like France and Britain met with a lot of public resistance when they started on their nuclear energy programmes. But the development of third generation or even fourth generation technology, which is safe as long as one follows the protocols and guidelines, has managed to clear much of the fears,” he said.

Yusof said the ministry was also in the process of getting input from global nuclear bodies on international standards and guidelines to set up nuclear plants.

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