Vietnam presses ahead with nuclear power plans

Reading Time: 2 minutes

97717028.datVietnam is pressing ahead with Southeast Asia’s most ambitious civilian nuclear energy programme. Foreign companies and governments are competing to get a toehold in an industry that could be worth $50 billion by 2030.

Those plans received a boost last week with the announcement that the US and Vietnam had signed an agreement allowing US firms to develop civilian nuclear power in the country.

Facing an energy crunch after years of underinvestment and artificially low consumer electricity prices, Vietnam is planning to build seven nuclear plants in the coming years.

“Vietnam has the second-largest market, after China, for nuclear power in East Asia, and our companies can now compete,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week after inking the agreement in Brunei with Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung.

However, the planned construction start date for the first two plants has been delayed by three years, from 2014 to 2017. Japan’s nuclear disaster of Fukushima also overhangs the plans.

A 2011, a study by three scientists from Italian research institutions said historical precedent suggests Vietnam’s coastline is potentially vulnerable to earthquake-generated tsunamis originating farther east in the South China Sea. Their simulation map suggests Ninh Thuan — the central province where the first reactor is slated to be built — and a few nearby provinces are among the most vulnerable to wave impact.

But Tan, the Hanoi-based nuclear official, said safety is a high priority and Vietnam’s plants will be built to international standards.

“We need to have nuclear power plants to ensure the supply of energy for our country,” he said. “Other energy sources are not sufficient.”

Vietnam badly needs to develop new power sources because its domestic coal and hydropower production is leveling off. The country is set to be a net energy importer by 2015. The Asian Development Bank has said domestic electricity demand may rise by up to 14 per cent per year until 2015 and plateau at 11 percent until 2020, fueled by a rising middle class that demands air conditioning and other energy-intensive creature comforts.

Vietnam’s 2011 power-grid master plan called for vast increases in energy production through 2030, but analysts say the government struggles to attract venture capital for new power plants partly because it keeps power prices below market rates, reducing incentives for potential investors.

Although no plants are under construction, Russian and Japanese investors are in the lead, with one project each, according to Tan. An office in the science and technology ministry is papered with topographical maps — some in Russian or Japanese — of the proposed Ninh Thuan province sites. South Korean and American firms are nipping at their competitors’ heels.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Vietnam is pressing ahead with Southeast Asia’s most ambitious civilian nuclear energy programme. Foreign companies and governments are competing to get a toehold in an industry that could be worth $50 billion by 2030.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

97717028.datVietnam is pressing ahead with Southeast Asia’s most ambitious civilian nuclear energy programme. Foreign companies and governments are competing to get a toehold in an industry that could be worth $50 billion by 2030.

Those plans received a boost last week with the announcement that the US and Vietnam had signed an agreement allowing US firms to develop civilian nuclear power in the country.

Facing an energy crunch after years of underinvestment and artificially low consumer electricity prices, Vietnam is planning to build seven nuclear plants in the coming years.

“Vietnam has the second-largest market, after China, for nuclear power in East Asia, and our companies can now compete,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week after inking the agreement in Brunei with Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung.

However, the planned construction start date for the first two plants has been delayed by three years, from 2014 to 2017. Japan’s nuclear disaster of Fukushima also overhangs the plans.

A 2011, a study by three scientists from Italian research institutions said historical precedent suggests Vietnam’s coastline is potentially vulnerable to earthquake-generated tsunamis originating farther east in the South China Sea. Their simulation map suggests Ninh Thuan — the central province where the first reactor is slated to be built — and a few nearby provinces are among the most vulnerable to wave impact.

But Tan, the Hanoi-based nuclear official, said safety is a high priority and Vietnam’s plants will be built to international standards.

“We need to have nuclear power plants to ensure the supply of energy for our country,” he said. “Other energy sources are not sufficient.”

Vietnam badly needs to develop new power sources because its domestic coal and hydropower production is leveling off. The country is set to be a net energy importer by 2015. The Asian Development Bank has said domestic electricity demand may rise by up to 14 per cent per year until 2015 and plateau at 11 percent until 2020, fueled by a rising middle class that demands air conditioning and other energy-intensive creature comforts.

Vietnam’s 2011 power-grid master plan called for vast increases in energy production through 2030, but analysts say the government struggles to attract venture capital for new power plants partly because it keeps power prices below market rates, reducing incentives for potential investors.

Although no plants are under construction, Russian and Japanese investors are in the lead, with one project each, according to Tan. An office in the science and technology ministry is papered with topographical maps — some in Russian or Japanese — of the proposed Ninh Thuan province sites. South Korean and American firms are nipping at their competitors’ heels.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid