Today, the global nuclear industry comes its third prosperity. Unlike the previous two times in 1950s and 1970s, with the deepening of the globalization and the marketization of the nuclear industry, more and more developing countries show the interest of the nuclear energy and it boosts the industry.
Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East, East Europe, Africa, and Latin America are the potential market attracting companies bidding for its planned or ongoing nuclear projects.
As it was discussed in the Asia Nuclear Business Platform, I would like to share some of my thoughts on the nuclear potentials in Southeast Asia and South Asia above.
Nuclear Industry in Southeast Asia
- Demands of the nuclear energy
Being close to the second and third largest economy in the world, Southeast Asia today is one of the fastest economic growing region in the world. In 2015, the GDP in ASEAN grew by 4.4% which is higher than the global average of 3.1%. Even though the economy in China is continuously slowing down, IMF still looks highly of the Southeast Asia’s economic growth in 2016. Besides, Southeast Asia has a large population of 0.6 billion and it is still growing. The growing economy and population caused the demand of more energy.
Electricity in Southeast Asia is primarily generated from fossil resources and hydro-power. While the region is awash with energy resources, rising demand has placed a strain on them. Southeast Asia has been a net oil importer since long time ago, and most of the natural resources are located in South China Sea or far away from the land where require massive infrastructure investments. In addition, the signing of the Paris Agreement about climate change last year resulted in a control of exploitation of the fossil resources.
Rising energy demand and soaring energy prices, coupled with increasing consciousness about climate change, will combine to create a strong impetus of Southeast Asian countries to embark on a nuclear path.
2.Current Situation of the Nuclear Industry by Country
Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand are standing ahead of other Southeast Asian countries that they have already floated proposals for the construction of 16 nuclear reactors (4 from Indonesia, 4 from Thailand, 8 from Vietnam). For Vietnam, it has considered establishing nuclear power generation since 1995, and firm proposals surfaced in 2006, and Russia has agreed to finance the nuclear projects since 2020.
The government of Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar talked about the nuclear energy and they all showed the interest. However, these countries have not published any plan of the future nuclear power plant, even like Malaysia has already set up its government agency to look after the nuclear industry.
The Philippine nuclear program started in 1958 with the creation of the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission, in 1973, the Philippine governement announced to build their nuclear power plant. However, after the Three Mile Island accident in America, the nuclear project in Philippines has been suspended till today. This year, the new president of Phillippines Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to revive the former nuclear project in Philippines to resolve the power issue in the country.
Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in Philippines
3. Hesitation of the Nuclear Industry Development
It is no doubt that in the short term future, the nuclear industry in Southeast Asia will still stay at the planning or feasibility researching stage. The hesitation mostly come from the consideration of nuclear safety, political stability of the country, financing of the project, and technology capacity.
Doosan Vina, the first qualified nuclear equipment manufacturing base in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is located on the active border of crustal plates where seism and tsunami are considered as the frequent natural disaster. Thus, the nuclear engineers will have to deal with the challenge of earthquake and the risk of radiation leakage caused by the natural disaster in the future.
The instability of the politic environment in Southeast Asia is a big problem that slows down the development of the nuclear industry in the region. The lack of enforcement and authority inside their country is a common difficulty of the government from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Philippines.
Thus, to embrace the bright future of the nuclear industry in Southeast Asia, these are the issues that must be discussed.
What do you think of the nuclear industry in Southeast Asia?