Are Malaysia’s nuclear power plans on hold – or are they quietly proceeding behind the scenes according to a scheduled timeline that could see the first plant commissioned in 2021?
According to an NST report dated 18 October, Energy Minister Peter Chin was reported as saying the government has not yet made a ‘final decision’ on the proposal to build nuclear power plants in the country.
But what’s happening behind the scenes?
Take a look at the the INPRO Dialogue Forum, which “brings together nuclear technology users and technology holders from interested Member States to discuss issues related to sustainable nuclear energy development and deployment”.
The Director of the Nuclear Power Division of Malaysia, Mohamad Puad Haji Abu, made a presentation on the progress of the nuclear power programme in Malaysia. The presentation was published on the IAEA website page for the INPRO Dialogue Forum, which was held on 10-14 October 2011 in Austria.
Among the key challenges Puad identified: to “promote public acceptance”, and to “acquire approval for plant sites” and “obtain public support in the locality”.
According to the detailed timeline, the programme managers are now supposed to be identifying potential sites and the final site selection is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012.
Puad ended his presentation by stating, “In 2021 and 2023 Malaysia plan to have 1000 MW reactor respectively and probably by 2030, 2 SMR might be proposed to propel nation’s future energy demand.”
So how? Who is telling the truth?
The Sankei news portal reported that METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) of Japan had announced on 3 September 2010 that it had signed a a document with Malaysia for the cooperation on infrastructure development of the country’s nuclear power programme. The ministry will cooperate on human resource development, public relations and legislation development.
Of course, Japan turned out to be a public relations disaster with Fukushima in March this year; so that is why one of the key challenges is winning public acceptance of the nuclear power programme in Malaysia. Memories are short; and Bernama reported in August that Japan had decided “to continue with its policy of exporting nuclear power generation technology after reviewing the policy” in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
So is our nuclear power programme really on hold given what was revealed in the presentation for the INPRO Dialogue Forum?