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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        15  March 2011

Malaysia now faces tough decision on nuclear

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Malaysia will have to make a tough call now on whether to proceed with its plans to build nuclear plants locally, or look at other renewable energy sources, considering the explosion and radioactive leakage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

Analysts said the government should look at other energy sources such as solar or wind as renewable energy options as oppose to narrowing it down to just nuclear energy.

“Considering what has happened in Japan, where people are potentially exposed to radiation leaks, these are serious issues to consider before embarking on the local nuclear project,” said a local research analyst.

Another local analyst covering the utilities sector said that while Malaysia was not subjected to natural disasters such as earthquakes, Malaysia was still open to calamities such as severe floods.

Plans to have nuclear plants locally in slightly over a decade have drawn strong criticisms in the last couple of days, in light of explosions that have happened at a nuclear plant in north-eastern Japan as a consequence of an earthquake and tsunami that took place last Friday.

Several political parties and various groups have urged the government to see whether there is a real need and necessity for a nuclear power plant in the country.

A local daily reported yesterday, citing Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui, that the government would not rush to build nuclear plants in the country until all safety aspects and public feedback were considered.

Malaysia plans to build two nuclear power plants that will generate 1,000 MW each with the first plant ready for operation in 2021. The second plant is expected to be ready a year later. Bernama had reported in December quoting Chin that the Government would engage an international consultant to evaluate the location and requirement for such plants to be built.

The evaluation should be completed by 2013 or 2014 and to call for tenders by 2016. Malaysia heavily relies on gas and coal for its electricity supply as it was the Government's policy to reduce reliance on fossil fuel. Gas accounted for 64% of the country's energy generation while the remainder came from coal.

Chin had also said then that hydro power could assume a prominent role but more so for Sabah and Sarawak while other energy sources such as biomass and wind were too minimal while solar was a good potential but the technology was still very expensive.

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