Site search is on for Malaysian nuclear plants

04 May 2010

Malaysia's Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water has been given the go-ahead to look for suitable sites for a nuclear power plant.

According to reports on state news agency Bernama and prime minister Najib Razak's blog, the country's Economic Council has given its approval for the ministry to look into identifying suitable sites for a nuclear power plant, looking towards a startup date in the early 2020s.

Speaking after a conference on sustainable buildings in Kuala Lumpur, minister for energy, green technology and water Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui told reporters that a stakeholder consultation would take place once a site had been identified. Chin described nuclear energy as the "only viable option" for Malaysia's long term energy needs.

Malaysia is heavily reliant on gas and coal for its electricity: in 2006, 64% of the country's generation was from gas and 25% from coal. Government policy calls for a reduced reliance on gas, and the country has been taking tentative steps towards nuclear power, with recent reports of a $7 billion budget to build a nuclear power plant by 2025.

A keen user of social networking sites, Najib Razak has recently used his Facebook page to seek out the views of Malaysian citizens on the country's aims to become a low carbon economy. In his latest blog entry, the prime minister asks if nuclear is the right energy source for Malaysia. "Before embarking on such an important decision we must conduct a comprehensive study on it. As such the Government is undertaking feasibility studies on nuclear energy use for electricity generation. I am eager to understand better and to know the findings," he said.

Malaysia has operated a 1 MWt Triga research reactor since 1982. The country has had an international nuclear safeguards agreement in place since 1972 and recently tightened export control laws to thwart the possibility of nuclear technology smuggling. 

Researched and written

by World Nuclear News