First nuclear power plant expected in 2021, says Chin

KUALA LUMPUR: The first nuclear power plant is expected to start operations in 2021, said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui.

He said his ministry has been given approval by the Economic Council to start identifying suitable sites for the plant, adding that the countdown for nuclear power began three weeks ago.

"Once the site is identified, we will roll out stakeholders consultation," he told reporters after officiating a conference on Sustainable Buildings South-East Asia 2010 here on May 4.

Declining to reveal the possible sites and the total power deliverable, Chin said the nuclear plant needed to be built in an area with high power demand. He said the lifespan of a nuclear power plant is between 50 years and 70 years.

"Building the first plant needs a lead time of at least 10 years. We need to look at the safety aspects, human resources and the location," he said.

The final decision on whether the plant would be built was up to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Chin said, adding that technology providers could come from South Korea, China, France or Japan.

Chin said a nuclear plant was needed to meet the country's increasing demand for energy due to industrialisation and to ensure energy security.

"We have to look at energy security. No country can grow without energy, no gross domestic product can progress without energy.

"Nuclear energy is the only viable option towards our long-term energy needs. Our energy generation mix is rather unhealthy at the moment because we are using too much gas and coal," he said.

Asked on the cost for a nuclear power plant, Chin said: "It is a costly exercise but we have no choice. Rather than building many coal plants or gas plants which is going to cost even more going into the future."

Chin said the country must have 20% power reserves, adding that the current power usage was 14,000MW and has a capacity of 23,000MW. -- Bernama

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