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Conversations from Shanghai – International Atomic Energy Agency

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Uncategorized

Ayhan Evrensel is a communication adviser with the International Atomic Energy Agency. While in Shanghai for Asia Nuclear Business Platform, he participated in a panel on battling societal perceptions of the risks of nuclear power projects and sat down with us to talk about the importance of stakeholder involvement.

Asia Nuclear Business Platform (ANBP): How important is stakeholder involvement?

Ayhan Evrensel (AE): In my department we deal with the whole fuel cycle – from uranium to waste, through power and research reactors. In all the steps of the nuclear fuel cycle, for power generation and research reactors, stakeholder involvement is a very, very important issue for IAEA member states. It’s actually embedded in the IAEA safety standards produced by the member states and it is a key recommendation for countries new to nuclear power.

In 2007, we came up with a guidance for member states that goes step by step through nuclear decision making. This Milestones Approach defines three phases – consider, prepare, construct – and all the steps that need to be taken to launch a nuclear power program. Once they decide, we go through with them in closing their own gaps – in strengthening their infrastructure – in 19 clearly identified issues throughout the three phases. And one of those 19 technical issues is stakeholder involvement. So for us, stakeholder engagement is as important as legal infrastructure, as the grid system, as waste management policy, etc.

ANBP: Do you see a growing awareness of the importance of stakeholder involvement?

AE: Yes, I think so. IAEA Member States that are now either considering or are embarking on a nuclear power program see the importance of it because absence of securing support could simply put projects to a halt. The former approach of “decide and defend” just does not work. This is a notion that the operating countries learned the hard way, and the newcomer countries are learning – hopefully not the hard way – because there are numerous examples of what not to do. There are several nuclear power plants that were constructed but never went into operation. And for a good deal of those, stakeholder involvement played an important role. So, the newcomers don’t want to repeat these mistakes. The IAEA is a great hub for this learning. We take people from operating countries, together with people from newcomer states, to share experiences, best practices and mistakes, and build programs and projects that are started with buy-in from various stakeholders, including national entities, research bodies, as well as the public.

ANBP: How important is what’s happening in Asia to the future of nuclear energy?

AE: Asia currently is the engine of nuclear power’s expansion. Two thirds of the new builds currently taking place are happening in Asia. China is the leading country of those. If we take China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, it’s clear Asia is the engine. It’s where nuclear power is on a boom. The expansion of energy demand is big and nuclear power is taking a share of that, whereas in other parts of the world, nuclear power is kind of in stagnation or decline. But overall, globally, for the first time last year, the IAEA’s low projections showed a decline in installed nuclear power capacity for 2030, 2040 and 2050. As much as we see a massive buildout happening, the projections for nuclear power’s future are likely to go down for 2030, 2040 and 2050. And I think that’s an important message for decision-makers around the globe:, if they still want to have their energy security, if they want to fulfil their climate commitments and meet their sustainable development goals, nuclear power has a crucial role to play in the future electricity mix.

Conversations from Shanghai is a series of interviews with key participants and speakers from the 2018 edition of Asia Nuclear Business Platform which took place 8-11 May 2018 in Shanghai, China. It was conducted by the PR Agency, Potomac Communications Group. Nuclear Business Platform moves to Mumbai, India next for India Nuclear Business Platform this 9-10 October 2018

NPCIL awards $501m contracts to KSB, L&T, BHEL, RInfra in 2018

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Uncategorized

Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has embarked on an ambitious program of 12 PHWR 700 MW projects at various locations throughout the country. NPCIL is responsible for design, construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear power reactors in India.

Over the past 7 months, NPCIL has awarded contracts worth $501m for their new-build programmes. More contracts are poised to be awarded with the Indian nuclear power programme gathering momentum. Below is a summary of contracts which have been awarded this year.

Earlier this year in February, NPCIL awarded an order worth $64m to KSB Pumps Limitedfor the supply of eight primary coolant pumps – RSR 400/2 and related accessories. These pumps will be installed at NPCIL’s Gorakhpur Anu Vidyut Pariyojana 1 & 2 project in Haryana. Manufacturing of the pumps will commence at KSB’s Energy Pumps Division in Shirwal, near Pune. Delivery of these pumps is expected to commence in June 2021 with a target to complete the order by March 2023.

A month later in March, engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) won a $109m order from NPCIL to supply steam generators and end shields for its indigenously designed 700 MWe Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) to be set up at Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana (GHAVP) in Fatehabad district of Haryana. Steam generator is a critical equipment of the nuclear power facility that generates steam by using heat produced in a reactor core, while end shield is used to prevent the direct radiation coming out from a reactor core.

That same month, Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) secured a significant order worth $107m for supply of Steam Generators from NPCIL. The Steam Generators will be used for a 700 MWe Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) to be installed at Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojna (GHAVP) in Fatehabad district of Haryana. The steam generators will be manufactured at the Tiruchirappalli plant of BHEL. Currently, BHEL manufactured Steam Turbine Generator sets contribute nearly half of the country’s total installed Nuclear power capacity.

In April 2018, Reliance Infrastructure received a $158m purchase order from NPCIL for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for Common Services System, Structure & Components (SSC) package and allied civil works of Unit -3 and 4 of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. The contract entails design, engineering, supply, erection, testing and commissioning of SSC package and allied civil works on EPC basis. The project is to be commissioned in 56 months.

Later in June, BGR Energy Systems secured two orders worth $63m from NPCIL for to engineering, manufacturing, procurement, transportation and storage among other activities of 400KV and 230KV Switchyards and BoP electrical areas for Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant’s Units 3 and 4. The completion period for this contract is 60 months.

Westinghouse, EDF and Rosatom are also planning to build more reactors in India. Westinghouse plans to build six AP1000 reactors in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh while EDF plans to build 6 EPRs worth $17bn in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Rosatom is already participating in the construction of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and has committed to building 6 plants in Kudankulam

Mr. S K Sharma, Chairman & Managing Director of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has confirmed his attendance at India Nuclear Business Platform (INBP) which will take place 9-10 October 2018 at The Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai, India. Mr. Sharma will deliver a Keynote address on ,“New build program of NPCIL – Status & Challenges ahead”.


Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is a public sector enterprise under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. The company operates six nuclear power stations: Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) (2x BWR, 2 x PHWR) in Maharashtra; Rajasthan (RAPS) (6 x PHWR) in Rajasthan, Madras (MAPS) (2 x PHWR) in Tamil Nadu, Narora (NAPS) (2 x PHWR) in Uttar Pradesh, Kakrapar (KAPS) (6xPHWR) in Gujarat and Kaiga (4 x PHWR) in Karnataka. In total NPCIL operates 22 commercial nuclear power reactors. The reactor fleet comprises two Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and 18 Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). Another 4 reactors are under construction.

To learn more about NPCIL, please visit

Conversations from Shanghai – Copenhagen Atomics

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Uncategorized

Thomas Jam Pedersen, founder and chairman of Copenhagen Atomics, gave a fascinating talk on his vision for using spent nuclear fuel and building out an advanced nuclear future. He sat down with Asia Nuclear Business Platform to talk about his inspiration.

Asia Nuclear Business Platform (ANBP): What drove you to look at molten salt reactors? What’s the “why” driving your work?

Thomas Jam Pedersen (TJP): Energy is really important for creating prosperity. A lot of the problems we see around the world could be solved, to some extent, at least mitigated, if we have more energy, clean water, etc. The Copenhagen Atomics team thinks that if we have access to all of these nice things – a house with heaters, AC, food, transportation, all that stuff, it would be nice if the rest of the world’s population had access to the same. Really, we see an opportunity – if there’s enough energy – to achieve these things.

So, we started asking questions. Is there enough energy? Maybe there’s not. This has nothing to do with politics. It’s a physical problem. Is there enough oil and gas? Not for the long-term. If eight billion people were to use as much oil as the average citizen in the U.S., it’s pretty difficult to imagine achieving that a low price. Then you examine other energy sources. We looked at wind and solar. I looked at that before I started this project. So, for a number of years I had been looking at this energy problem asking how it could be solved. And then I stumbled upon thorium energy. And I thought this can’t be true. It sounds too good to be true. If it was that simple, why didn’t the existing nuclear industry go that route? And why are the existing reactors so big and so expensive?

ANBP: You’ve said you were really impressed and inspired by the Hanford B Reactor. Tell me about the experience of visiting and what that meant?

TJP: It was just last summer I visited. I had heard from someone it had been opened as a public museum and I was going there, to the U.S., for vacation with my kids. So, I said, we’ve got to plan this vacation so that I get a day at Hanford. Of course, I’d read about it before and I’ve read about the stories from the Manhattan Project, but being there, and seeing the actual thing and listening to some old timers there that are guiding the tours, and they’re telling these stories about the thing when it was actually running, it really gave you the impression of how things were built and how simple it was in the beginning.

Being there in front of that reactor – a 2.5 GW reactor – and thinking this is something we could build today really easily. And even back then, they tell you, that without any of the tools we have today, they built it in 11 months. You can’t help but think that this is not difficult technology…. Being there looking at the Hanford reactor and realizing they built in 11 months and it ran for 25 years without an accident, I thought we must be doing something wrong today. That’s obvious. What we are doing wrong is not really the engineering. We could build the Hanford reactor again tomorrow, if we’re allowed to, but we’re not. We put up rules and regulations for ourselves that have made it incredibly expensive and difficult to build anything.

ANBP: You use the analogy – while you admit it’s an imperfect one – that we build 200,000 cars a day. That humans have the capacity to build out manufacturing to meet big challenges. Do you see the nuclear industry ever getting there?

TJP: I don’t see the nuclear industry – the light water reactor industry – ever getting there. But I do see the molten salt reactor as an option. It’s a low-pressure design. Low pressure, it makes it a lot less complex, a lot smaller. Something that you can build in one factory, put on a truck and drive away and install it. The possibility of assembly-line manufacturing is just a whole different game.

When you want to build a LWR nuclear reactor today, you hire 4,000 people put them in one big site. And for everyone, it’s the first time they’ve built this kind of reactor. It takes 10 years, and many of these projects in the U.S. and in Europe are delayed. Workers are laid off. New ones have to be hired a year later. It’s just about the most expensive way you could build anything. The whole way it’s managed is fundamentally wrong…. Nuclear energy will never really matter in the big picture before we get to assembly line production.

Conversations from Shanghai is a series of interviews with key participants and speakers from the 2018 edition of Asia Nuclear Business Platform which took place 8-11 May 2018 in Shanghai, China. It was conducted by the PR Agency, Potomac Communications Group. Nuclear Business Platform moves to Mumbai, India next for India Nuclear Business Platform this 9-10 October 2018

Playing the Leading Role in the Global Nuclear Industry – China’s Innovation for Advanced Passive Reactor

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Uncategorized

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 61st General Conference of IAEA in Vienna. As one of the member states, China was represented by China Atomic Energy Agency (CAEA) and the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC).

During one of the side events, the Senior Vice President of SNPTC Dr. Zheng Mingguang gave a presentation which gave an overview of the current stage of China’s nuclear industry and compared the different reactor technologies designed by China. With Fuqing Unit 4 commissioned in August this year, there is currently 37 reactors operating in China and 19 reactors under construction which is more than any other country in the world. Unlike others, China does not undertake only one certain nuclear reactor type. Instead there are different designs of reactor being developed simultaneously in China, including CAP1400, Hualong-1, High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor, VVER which was adopted from Russia, and CANDU the heavy water reactor which was adopted from Canada.

The National Middle & Long Term Key Project-CAP1400

CAP1400 was designed based on the passive 2-loop GEN III reactor AP1000. Development of CAP1400 including the design & equipment developed to meet with the Chinese-standards. According to the design, CAP1400 has less number of welding, less spare parts, and less waste generated. The operation flexibility was also enhanced after Fukushima.

Another important feature of CAP1400 which was emphasized during the presentation is the better economy. After the localization of its supply chain, and the strategic supplier assessment, the economics of CAP1400 construction is projected to be better controlled. It is estimated as USD 3000 per kW of the output cost in China.

China’s Ambassador to UN Vienna Mr. Shi Zhongjun commented during the conference as “the National Key Project of large-scale advanced passive PWR is a strategic arrangement of China being a strong power of the global nuclear industry and achieving the leapfrog development of the nuclear technology.”

Up to date, the design of CAP1400 has been approved by China National Energy Administration and it has passed the reactor safety assessment of IAEA. The CAP1400 demonstration nuclear power plant site-design in Rongchen has been 96% accomplished and ready for construction.

China’s Innovation on Small Module Reactors

SNP350 is the advanced technology applied for CNP300 which China has constructed in Chashma, Pakistan. SNP350 is designed to meet all the latest regulations, standards and requirements, with most advanced design methods and tools, modern material, manufacturing process, measuring instrument and control system. It has the features of better balancing, better risk control, and simplified operation and maintenance.

CNP300, designed by SNERDI,at Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, Pakistan

CAP200 is also an innovation which aims to replace thermal plants. Compare to other reactors, CAP200 is more flexible to have extensive site adaptability. It contains 32m deep underground structure with seismic isolation layer to ensure its better natural disaster resistance.

Suggestions for a Better Future of the Nuclear Industry

During the presentation, the Chinese representatives also shared the suggestions on the future development of the industry. One of the interesting point is that the future development should be divided into two directions, with the large-scale project being constructed, small-scaled reactor should be focused in the near-city area. With the multiple applications of heating, cooling, desalination etc. SMR in the future can play a very important role to be involved in our daily life.

Today, more and more people in the nuclear industry are putting their attention on China. As I see, China has taken the responsibility well to lead the development of global nuclear industry. We can see China’s effort on developing safer, more reliable, more sustainable, more scalable, and more economic nuclear power reactor technology.

Do you have any questions or interesting opinion with regards to China’s nuclear industry?

China’s newly published Nuclear Safety Law: “Strict” ?

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Uncategorized

In early September, China’s National Congress approved the first law for nuclear safety and security in China, and it will take effect from 1st January 2018, which will effectively put an end to the no-law-to-apply history of China’s nuclear industry.

What is in the nuclear safety law?

It is an extensive piece of legislature comprising of 8 sections and 94 articles written on nuclear safety law. They include:

  • General principles
  • Safety of nuclear materials and radioactive waste
  • Nuclear accident contingency
  • Information management and public participation
  • Supervision and inspection
  • Legal liability
  • Supplementary articles.

For the content, the Nuclear Safety Law clarifies the duty and qualification of nuclear operators in China. It notes the standards of the nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. The Nuclear Accident Contingency Committee and the nuclear accident contingency process are also elaborated in the safety law. Besides, in-land nuclear power plant and coastal nuclear power plant are not differentiated in the law. This would imply that in-land nuclear power plant built in China will have to adhere to the same safety standard as coastal nuclear power plants.

An important point to note, it is also spelt out clearly in the nuclear safely law that no one (citizen, legal person, organization) can spread false nuclear accident information in China. The penalty for doing so will be up to CNY 5 million (USD760k). Other incidents such as radioactive pollution and betrayal by leaking confidential information, will also be subjected to severe financial penalties.

To give an example, Chinese nuclear power plant operators are supposed to apply for a permission from the State Council supervision department before proceeding with activities like nuclear power plant site selection, construction, operation, and decommissioning, Besides, the law also requires that each Chinese nuclear operator needs to set aside enough fund as an insurance for any nuclear accident contingency.

Government’s attitude towards nuclear safety law

This new-published China Nuclear Safety Law is a milestone in the legislation in China’s nuclear industry. The Deputy Director of China National Nuclear Safety Administration Guo Chengzhan commented: “China today is a large market for the nuclear industry, with the total installed capacity of nuclear energy is the third largest in the world, it is a tough task to keep the nuclear energy safe and secure in China. Thus, a constitution of the nuclear safety is essential and necessary to implement the guideline “operate nuclear by law” raised by the central government.”

As the feature of the Nuclear Safety Law, in my opinion “strict” is the best word to describe it. The Director of National Congress Legislation Office Tong Weidong said the Nuclear Safety Law is strict on the standards, strict on the regulations, strict on the supervision and strict on the punishment.

“China’s approach to nuclear security” has been written in the law

In 2014, during the third Nuclear Security Summit in Den Haag, Netherland, the Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward China’s approach to nuclear security for the first time, which provided an important and useful perspective to promote international nuclear security. It is to place the same emphasis on development and security, rights and obligations, independent and collaborative efforts, treating symptoms and addressing causes. The nuclear safety law is one of the best examples that implements the essence of Xi Jinping’s nuclear security approach. It also shows the serious attention from China’s central government on the nuclear industry development.

The importance of public participation in the nuclear industry

To the nuclear industry, information disclosure and public participation is one of the most important items to keep the industry developing in a healthy manner. In the nuclear safety law, there is one section focusing on this topic. It encourages the public to learn more information about the nuclear industry and to participate in the nuclear industry development, to not fear nuclear energy, and eventually increase the acceptance of nuclear energy in China. This shows the long-term determination of China’s government to develop the nuclear industry.

The publication of Nuclear Safety Law is that China is timely with the Chinese nuclear industry now with over 30 years’ experience of developing the nuclear energy. It has completed China’s nuclear industry system, for China connecting to the international nuclear market. It is a positive and encouraging signal to accelerate China’s nuclear industry development.

What are your thoughts on China’s Nuclear Safety Law?

Nuclear safety and security is a very important topic of China’s nuclear industry and it will be discussed during the 6th Asia Nuclear Business Platform, which will take place 9-10 May 2018 in Shanghai. For more information please contact

CNNC and Shanghai to Establish an Advanced Nuclear R&D Center

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Uncategorized

On 28 August 2017, under the auspices of Shanghai General Secretary Han Zheng, Director of SASAC (State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission) of State Council Xiao Yaqing, the Mayor of Shanghai Ying Yong, CNNC (China National Nuclear Corporation) and Shanghai Economy and Information Technology Commission signed an agreement for CNNC to locate its advanced nuclear technology R&D center in Shanghai.

Under the agreement, CNNC will establish the following entities in Shanghai

  1. Nuclear Operation Research Institute
  2. Heavy Water Reactor Research and Development Company
  3. Nuclear Technology Investment Company
  4. Floating Nuclear Power Platform Development Company
  5. UK-China Joint Nuclear Research and Innovation Center

The Chariman of CNNC Wang Shoujun said “Shanghai will be a very important base of CNNC’s future development, Shanghai is now targeting to be a global leading research and innovation center, which will help China to become a significant scientific power.”

Elaborating further, Wang Shoujun highlighted that in the new era, CNNC will make use of the industrial, financial, technological, and location advantages of Shanghai, focusing on advanced technology research and development, deepening the cooperation with Shanghai, to establish a hundred-billion level capital operation platform and a strong driving force of the nuclear industry.

CNNC Shanghai R&D Center will focus on the research of developing:

  • New nuclear reactor technology
  • Nuclear manufacturing
  • Innovation of nuclear service industry

It will make Shanghai the hub of five sub-fields in the nuclear industry:

  1. Nuclear Technology Innovation Center
  2. Nuclear Industry Financial Service Center
  3. High-end Nuclear Equipment Supply Center
  4. Nuclear Safety and Security Service Center
  5. Nuclear Healthcare and Medication Industry Center

CNNC and Shanghai have been working together for a very long time ever since the first nuclear power plant in China. It believes that the cooperation between CNNC and Shanghai will bring the development of China’s nuclear industry to a new high level.


This article was first published here

China to transform Shanghai into world-leading nuclear power tech hub

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Uncategorized

China aims to build a world-class nuclear energy innovation hub in five years, rallying support from eight state-owned giants and leading academies, a milestone for the country’s ambitious plan to become a global nuclear forerunner.

Located in Shanghai, long a hotbed of nuclear innovation in China, the plan aims to make major breakthroughs conducive to a full industrial upgrading. This will include R&D, manufacturing of fourth-generation reactors and new types of pressurized water reactors; small reactors, marine nuclear power platforms, special nuclear materials; the construction of high-quality test benches and manufacturing chains, according to Zheng Mingguang, deputy general manager of the Shanghai-based State Nuclear Power Technology (SNPTC), the initiator of the project.

The mega plan will be pillared by the establishment of new innovative bodies in Shanghai, including an industry cloud and big data center, an advanced equipment manufacturing center, and a basic science innovation center to further establish China as a nuclear tech leader, high-end facility manufacturer and exporter.

The country’s top two nuclear energy makers, China National Nuclear and China Nuclear Power Engineering have signed up, pledging to deploy resources from their Shanghai affiliates to the new hub. Also on board are electrical equipment manufacturers, including Shanghai Electric, and brain powers such as the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics under Chinese Academy of Social Science, Shanghai Supercomputer Center, and Shanghai Jiaotong University.

“As China moves to the forefront of nuclear technology, there is a greater need for the integration of resources between research institutes and companies. In the next step, SNPTC will team up with Shanghai Jiaotong University to build a technology testing and verification base in Shanghai’s Lingang District,” said Zheng.

Shanghai is the birthplace of China’s nuclear power. In the 1970s, it housed China’s first domestically designed and built 300,000 KW Qinshan Plant, when more than 180 facility makers and research institutes laid roots in Shanghai to support its completion. Today, Shanghai has evolved into a major cluster of Chinese nuclear tech companies.

This article was first published on People’s Daily Online on 12 July

Current Situation of the Nuclear Industry in China

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Nuclear

Wang Jihong, senior partner of Zhong Lun Law Firm, Vice Chiar of China Chamber of International Commerce Environment and Energy Committee, expert in legislation of nuclear energy and nuclear infrastructure, will give the keynote speech at the 5th Asia Nuclear Business Platform. Before the conference taking place, we have prepared few questions to Wang Jihong.


  • Can you give an introduction first about your experience in the nuclear industry?

In the past ten years, I have worked on tens of domestic and international energy and infrastructure projects which were valued more than 800 billion, including the fourth nuclear power plant in Argentina and the Angra Nuclear Power Plant in Brazil.

During the project in Argentina, as the leader of the team, I participated from the pre-project analysis, contract composing, to the final negotiation with the Argentine government, and ensured the project was implemented eventually. Besides, me and my team also provide the legal services for China National Nuclear Corporation.

Additionally, I was invited to join the legislation of China’s Atomic Energy as the only lawyer of the group. In 2016, I was also invited to draft the Nuclear Safety and Security Regulations.


  • What is the current situation of the nuclear industry in China? Can you tell from the law firm’s view?

Before, the big nuclear companies in China always relied on their own legal department, rarely cooperated with the law firms. As the nuclear industry in China is growing and become more marketized, especially when “going-out” is highlighted for China’s nuclear industry, the cooperation between nuclear companies and law firms increased a lot. However, it also puts forward a stricter requirement to the lawyer who wants to working in this field.


  • Can you share a bit of your work in the legislation of the atomic energy law and Nuclear Safety and Security Regulations? What is the challenge for you?

I participated in the legislation of China’s atomic energy law, and I was the only lawyer in the legislation group. The legislation of the nuclear industry in China is a big topic, I will share more during my Keynote speech.


  • What do you expect in the future of working for the nuclear industry?

As my personal point of view, China today is being very aggressive in the international nuclear market, which is called the “ Going Out” strategy. As a lawyer serving the nuclear industry, I am also looking forward to “Going out”. When the Chinese company builds nuclear power plants overseas, the legal issue of the project is getting much more serious. Besides, as China’s nuclear industry “Going out”,  the chance of a Chinese law firm cooperating with the international law firms is also increasing. I would like to share with some of Zhong Lun’s points with the international lawyers at the conference.


The 5th edition of Asia Nuclear Business Platform will take place on 16-18 May 2017 at Novotel Shanghai, China. For more information, contact:

What Trump means for the nuclear industry

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Nuclear


The 11/9 will remain a historic date. It is difficult to predict what is going to happen, but in our industry like in many others, the keyword is uncertainty.

Make energy cheap again?

This could be a way to sum up the President-elect’s plan on energy policy.

It is very clear through Trump’s statements and program that he is pro-easy-and-cheap energy. On his campaign website he advocates for “unleashing America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.” That means the US is going to go back to investing massively in good old fossil fuel.

Mr. Trump also stated that he regretted the US didn’t take Iraq’s oil to “pay back” the cost of invading the country. Perhaps it is part of the President-elect’s plan once he has “bombed the hell out of ISIS”, and would add the country’s oil wells to America’s assets.

Combined with the promise to cancel the Paris COP21 agreement that was supposed to ensure the reduction of CO2 emissions from the world’s biggest polluters, it is clear that Trump’s only goal is to get cheap and easy energy no matter what. It is in accordance with the President-elect belief that the climate change was a “hoax” staged by the Chinese government. Naturally, using coal, oil and gas probably would have no consequence on the environment and public health, according to him anyway.

Mr. Trump said: “We will get the bureaucracy out of the way so we can pursue all forms of energy… The government should not pick winners and losers. Instead it should remove obstacles to exploration.”

Trump will make America “independent” and bring the cost of energy down. It is an excellent news for the fossil fuel companies, and it could create jobs in the sector short term. However, the consequences for other energy sectors, mainly nuclear and renewable energy could be catastrophic.

Nuclear energy can only be economically viable when the fossil fuel energy offer is becoming scarcer. The sector was at its heyday after the 1973 oil crisis. But with the plan to dig out and use coal massively, the prices will drop and nuclear power plants in America will become obsolete losing money machines. The only thing left for American nuclear industry companies would be to invest their technology into nuclear weapons in prospect of selling them to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. President Trump has indeed advocated for them to get their own nuclear weapons as he plans to discontinue the Nuclear Umbrella over US Asian allies.

Can the gain of the fossil-fuel industry account for the loss of other energy sectors?

On the short term, maybe. It will surely give a boost to the economy, it is always the case when energy becomes cheap. But how will America be independent when there is nothing left to dig out?

The President of Walls

During his campaign, Trump has promised to protect America’s interests by isolating the country from what he identifies as dangers. He promised to build a wall at the southern border to protect the US from Mexican immigrants and called to ban all Muslims to enter the territory to protect citizens from terrorism.

In a similar fashion, he has proposed a 45% tax on Chinese imported products, another “wall” supposedly to protect the US manufacturing. On the downside, this could have a huge impact on US exports to China as there is no doubt the Chinese government will retaliate. The US has played a major role in developing China’s energy boom and US companies profit enormously from this growth.

In its 2016 market report, the US International Trade Administration has identified China as the number one country for US civil nuclear exports. What will happen to the deals between Westinghouse, CNNC and CGN should Trump implement aggressive tariffs upon Chinese goods? It is likely that this could profit to other nuclear energy major stakeholders, like Russia, France or even Canada.

I believe that Trump’s energy policy as detailed during his campaign could only benefit to the traditional fossil fuel companies in the US. Globally, this could mean more business opportunities for European and Asian countries’ nuclear sector, should the US exports suffer from Trump’s presidency. The difficulty is attempting to determine which statements were made in order to attract attention, and which ones are true propositions to be implemented.

This is a story we will see unfold after Trump will be officially inaugurated the 45th President of the United States on January 20th.

I would be happy to hear your thought on this matter, what do you think Trump’s energy policy will be like?  Will he implement all his promises?

The future of the nuclear industry and the market opportunities are the focus of the yearly gathering Asia Nuclear Business Platform. The 5th edition will take place in Shanghai from the 16th to 18th of May 2017. For more information on how you can participate, contact

Nuclear Energy in Southeast Asia: A Bridge Too Far?

Written by Zaf Coelho. Posted in Nuclear

This article was written by Viet Phuong Nguyen and was first published on The Diplomat on 9 Nov 2016

In the late 2000s, energy forecasts began to use the term “nuclear renaissance” to refer to the fast-growing nuclear power program of China, and to the emergence of the so-called “nuclear aspirants” embarking on their first nuclear power projects. Many among these newcomers are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). For this reason, nuclear suppliers like the United States, Russia, Japan, and South Korea have been particularly active in signing cooperation agreements with ASEAN nations or supporting these countries to explore the feasibility of nuclear energy.

However, after almost a decade of pondering the nuclear option, no ASEAN state has made the decision to go nuclear. This article will discuss the evolution of the nuclear endeavor in Southeast Asian nations in order to show that ASEAN may not be a potential market for nuclear energy as the major vendors hoped.

The Philippines

Under the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines became the first Southeast Asian country to build a nuclear power plant after the Philippine government awarded the American company Westinghouse with a 600-MW project in Bataan in 1973. Facing a fierce anti-nuclear movement and allegations of corruption, the construction of the Bataan nuclear power plant was only completed in 1984. With the overthrow of the Marcos regime in 1986, however, the ill-fated plant has since been mothballed without a single day of operation.

Having invested more than $2 billion for the construction of the nuclear project, and probably another significant amount to maintain it in good condition, the Philippine government has explored plans to revive the Bataan project or to convert it into a thermal power station. None of these plans were seriously considered due to the high projected cost and strong public opposition, particularly from the Catholic Church. Most recently, speaking at a nuclear conference in Manila, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi proposed the idea of restarting the Bataan plant to cope with the energy demand of the country, only to be quickly rebuffed by the newly-elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, citing safety and security concerns.


Among the potential customers of nuclear energy in Southeast Asia, Vietnam been has been considered the most serious given its high-profile agreements with Russia and Japan on the construction of two plants in Ninh Thuan province, and its ambitious plan to build up to ten nuclear units by 2030. In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011, when neighboring states like China or Thailand decided to either slow down their nuclear programs or withdraw from the race altogether, the Vietnamese government still reiterated their commitment to follow through with the announced plan and even broadened the country’s nuclear cooperation by signing a nuclear agreement with the United States (commonly known as the “123 Agreement”) in 2014.

After several years of progress, the first signs of trouble in the Ninh Thuan nuclear project came in late 2015 when it was reported that the start of the first unit’s construction would likely be delayed for six years, from the initially planned 2016 to 2022, with the operation date moved further to July 2028. Later that year, Vu Ngoc Hoang, the second-in-command of the Vietnam Communist Party’s propaganda machine, surprised the media and the public with an article alluding to a disagreement among the Party’s leadership on the feasibility of the Ninh Thuan project and proposing to stop the nuclear development program for good. Although Hoang retired not long after the article’s publication, considering the Party’s consensus-driven process of policy making and Hoang’s seniority within the Communist Party as a member of the Party’s Central Committee, it is difficult not to wonder about a dire future for nuclear energy in Vietnam.

Signs of a possible moratorium on or even termination of nuclear development in Vietnam have become apparent since early 2016 with the promulgation of the revised National Electricity Development Plan. The updated plan confirmed the 2028 delay for Ninh Thuan, alongside a significant drop of nuclear power estimates by 2030 (from 10.1 percent in the original plan down to 5.7 percent). In October 2016, “issues related to the construction of the nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuan” were announced by the Fourth Plenum of the new Central Committee, implying that the public will hear soon about the fate of the nuclear project. One month later, the Japanese news agency Kyodo confirmed the Vietnam Communist Party’s decision to postpone both the Russian and Japanese nuclear power projects due to the current financial constraints of the country. Interestingly enough, this definitive confirmation came from a foreign outlet, whereas in recent months Vietnamese domestic media has still focused on debating the necessity of nuclear energy for the country or discussing the risks of the Chinese nuclear plants that have been built and operated near the border with Vietnam.

Other Southeast Asian States

Among the Southeast Asian states, Thailand was the first country to conclude the 123 Agreement with the United States, as well as the earliest contender in the nuclear race, with proposals dating back to the 1960s. After several dormant decades due to safety concerns and the abundance of natural gas, nuclear advocacy made a comeback in Thailand in the 2000s when the Thai government contracted the consulting firm Burns and Roe to study the feasibility of a nuclear power project in the country. However, this renewed interest in nuclear energy has met with intense public opposition, especially after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, to the point that the Thai government has had to indefinitely postpone its nuclear endeavor. As a result, the Thai government did not seek to extend the 123 Agreement, when the agreement expired in 2014. Extending the 123 Agreement is a prerequisite condition if Thailand wants to import nuclear technologies of U.S. origin.

Having one of the more advanced nuclear programs in the region, Indonesia has considered introducing nuclear energy to decrease the country’s dependence on coal and oil since the early 1990s. However, a combination of precarious geological conditions, public opposition, and lack of political determination has made nuclear an undesirable choice in Indonesia’s energy planning. Lately, Indonesian officials reportedly emphasized that nuclear energy would only be considered beyond 2025 if the country’s renewable energy target cannot be met by other options.

The last potential nuclear energy user in the ASEAN community is Malaysia, where the nuclear option has been seriously considered since the late 2000s. Despite having a careful and well-organized development plan, the Malaysian government has continuously moved back the starting date of the country’s first nuclear project in order to gain public support and adjust the technical and financial feasibility of the project. Lately, the CEO of the Malaysian Nuclear Power Corporation stated that 2030 is the earliest date possible for the construction of the first nuclear plant in Malaysia.

Finally, despite once possessing a controversial nuclear research program, the reformed Myanmar has halted a major part of its nuclear activities in order to show its willingness for political transparency and international cooperation. Furthermore, together with Cambodia and Laos, Myanmar does not have the financial capacity, manpower, or necessary infrastructure for such a complex and expensive project as a nuclear power plant. On the other hand, the leading nation of ASEAN in these aspects – Singapore – has made an official decision to not explore the nuclear option, which is understandable given its limited landmass and environmental concerns.


In reviewing the history of nuclear development (or lack thereof) in Southeast Asia, one can identify the major obstacles for nuclear advocacy, namely the anti-nuclear sentiment, persistent safety concerns, and a lack of consistent political willingness from Southeast Asian governments. Even though nuclear energy has been considered an attractive option in the fight against climate change, which has emerged as one of the most important threats to the region, it is unlikely that those obstacles can be alleviated anytime soon. Rather, similar to the situation in South Korea, where nuclear acceptance has deteriorated significantly in the past two decades, the growing middle class in ASEAN nations will probably become more concerned about environmental issues, of which nuclear energy has always been one of the most poignant.

One example of the increasing power of the environmentalist movement can be found in Vietnam, where mass protests occurred at unprecedented scale in reaction to the large-scale fish kill in the coastal region due to chemical spill from a Taiwan-owned steel factory. Participants in these protests included local people, religious leaders, activists, and lawyers; a similar grouping was observed during the anti-nuclear activities that led to the shutdown of the Bataan nuclear power plant in the Philippines during the 1980s. Therefore, despite the news here and there about the conclusions of new nuclear cooperation agreements by ASEAN nations, it is very difficult to conceive that a nuclear power plant will actually be built in one of these countries, at least in the next one or two decades.

Viet Phuong Nguyen is a predoctoral fellow in the Belfer Center’s International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom. He is a Ph.D. candidate in nuclear engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) after receiving a B.Sc. in nuclear physics from the Vietnam National University and a M.Sc. in nuclear engineering from KAIST.