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Asean Affairs  20  January 2011

Nuclear power in Asean

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     20 January 2011

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The second annual Nuclear Power Asia 2011 conference opened in Hanoi on January 18, with more than 120 delegates from Asian countries.

The two-day conference hopes to create opportunities for government management agencies, nuclear power experts and businesses in Asia to exchange information and share the experiences of advanced countries in addressing key issues in nuclear power development.

Vietnam has joined with Russia to build the first nuclear power plant in Vietnam as they have signed an intergovernmental agreement on the issue. Many Vietnamese students have been sent to Russia to study nuclear physics. A training center on nuclear energy was also established in the city of Moscow to help train Vietnamese experts.

Vietnam is the first Asean country preparing to build a nuclear power plant, estimated to cost US$12 billion.

As Vietnam anticipates an energy deficit by 2020 the government has approved construction of the Ninh Thuan No 1 and No 2 nuclear power plants with the capacity of 4,000MW in total. As planned, construction of Ninh Thuan No 1 will begin in 2014 and finish in 2020.

Issues that Asian countries face in a bid to develop nuclear power are cost, lack of training and education at the university level to prepare students to work in the field, and lack of a regulatory framework.

In Asean, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are also preparing for nuclear power development as an answer to their projected energy needs.

The nuclear power thrust is unprecedented for Asean countries. The International Energy Agency said that Asean would see an average annual increase of 2.5 percent in its energy demand until 2030. It estimates Asean electricity demand to increase 76 percent between 2007 and 2030.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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