December 10, 2019 07:10

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Restart nuclear power from 2030?

10:35 | 14/09/2019

VCN - For many reasons, the development of nuclear power in Vietnam has been stopped since 2016. However, with other sources facing difficulties and the risk of electricity shortage set to appear in the immediate future, nuclear power is considered a way to help Vietnam ensure energy security in the coming time.

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Compared to traditional energy sources, nuclear power has a large, stable electrical capacity with high availability factor and does not emit greenhouse gases. Photo: ST

Putting nuclear power into the VIII electricity plan

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, compared to traditional energy sources, nuclear power has a large, stable electrical capacity with high availability factor and it does not emit greenhouse gases. The fuel cost of nuclear power is very low, about 10 replace, while this figure of coal thermal power is 60 replace. According to the project developers, the cost of nuclear power is equal to the cost of thermal power using imported coal.

Most big countries in the world reaching developed scientific and technological levels and high economic growth have used nuclear power. And many developed countries which are ineligible to develop nuclear power in the coming decades are creating plans for developing nuclear power in the future.

Referring to the relatively high demand for electricity in Vietnam while the supply is facing difficulties, talking to reporters of Customs News, PhD. Nguyen Manh Hien-former Director of the Institute of Energy, said after 2030, Vietnam would be in serious shortage of energy. Meanwhile, coal had to be imported. Hydroelectricity will also be fully exploited. Liquefied gas was also about to be imported. If Vietnam does not develop nuclear power, the country will have to import a lot of liquefied gas and coal, which means energy security is greatly limited.

"To ensure national energy security, and contribute to combating global climate change, which means reducing greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power development sites in Ninh Thuan should be kept for further development after 2030,” said Hien.

In terms of specific actions, according to the expert, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has prepared to build the VIII electric plan, with a vision to 2050. The content about nuclear power should be included in this plan, maintaining two positions in Ninh Thuan province. In addition, some other suitable locations in Phu Yen as well as other places should be used to continuously developed nuclear power. "At present, the two positions in Ninh Thuan have prepared fully. Japan and Russia are keen to restart to continue these projects. From now until 2030, these positions should be retained, and the occupancy of land area for nuclear power planning for other purposes is not allowed,” said Hien.

Nuclear power should be restarted from 2030

The Government has assigned the Ministry of Industry and Trade to be host and coordinate with domestic and foreign consultancy units in elaborating the National Power Development Plan in the period 2021-2040 (Power Development Plan No8– PDP8). The Ministry of Industry and Trade stated during the construction of PDP8 that the consultant would research and calculate carefully the possibility of nuclear power, so that the Ministry of Industry and Trade and units could contribute ideas, evaluate and submit to the Prime Minister for making a decision.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong, the research and consideration of the appearance of nuclear power will be based on the basis, viewpoint of calculation and the balance of electricity supply and demand during the implementation of the PDP8;diversify the energy supply sources, ensure energy security, meet the country's electricity needs, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, especially when the potential of hydroelectric and fossil fuels wasfully exploited;ensure its economy when competing with imported fuels. Notably, the appearance of nuclear power is also based on promoting the development of science-technology and technology potential, developing infrastructure not only in the nuclear power industry, electricity industry but also many other industries and economies of the country, contributing to improving the position of Vietnam when mastering the technology of nuclear power.

When a reporter asked "Why do not we restart the development of nuclear power right now but wait until 2030?", PhD Hien said Vietnam was expected to face a power shortage in 2022-2023. Building a nuclear power plant takes about 6-7 years. The immediate restart of the suspended projects would not make up for the electricity shortage in 2022-2023. Moreover, there is no capital for developing nuclear power immediately.

Recently, Vietnam has developed renewable energy such as wind and solar power. For Vietnam Electricity (EVN), the current difficulty is releasing solar power capacity in peak areas such as Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, so it is necessary to focus on and prioritise that solution first. In addition, the schedule of coal power plants which are behind schedule in the Mekong Delta such as Song Hau and Long Phu need to be accelerated.

Regarding the development of nuclear power, despite supporting the development of nuclear power, Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan said there was no basis for Vietnam to develop nuclear power in a safe and sustainable manner. "For nuclear power, never let foreign countries follow the lump sum and turnkey method. This is extremely dangerous because it concerns not only energy security but also national security. In the era of the fourth industrial revolution, a nuclear power plant can be controlled from hundreds of thousands of kilometers away, even from space.Foreign investors can be invited to work for Vietnam, but safety workers and operators must be Vietnamese.”

The development of nuclear power in Vietnam was first considered at the Second Conference (Session VIII) dated December 24, 1996.The conference identified "Preparing scientific premise for the use of atomic energy after 2020". In the document of the ninth Congress, the Strategy for socio-economic development period 2001-2010 defined the mission of "Researching the plan to use atomic energy".

On the basis of the Party's direction, under the direction of the Government, the project "General research on developing nuclear power plants in Vietnam" has been chaired by the previous Ministry of Industry in coordination with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and other relevant agencies to prepare a Pre-Feasibility Study Report for building nuclear power project in Vietnam.

The orientation of the Vietnam long-term nuclear power development planning vision of 2050 ensuring the country's electricity needs has been decided by the Politburo in Resolution No. 18-NQ/TU dated October 25, 2007.The policy to invest in the nuclear power plant in Ninh Thuan was approved by the Politburo in Conclusion No. 21-KL/TU dated February 25, 2008and Conclusion No. 55-KL/TU dated September 27, 2009 of the Party Central Committee.The National Assembly approved the investment policy of Ninh Thuan nuclear power project in Resolution No. 41/2009/QH12 dated November 25, 2009.

In parallel with the process of conducting surveys, designing a pre-feasibility study report of nuclear power plant in Ninh Thuan, the Prime Minister also approved many Master Plans and Strategies related to nuclear power development. During the implementation of the project, Vietnam's macro-economic development situation has changed significantly compared to the time of making investment decision for the project.

On the other hand, Vietnam needs a large capital to invest in synchronous and modern infrastructure in order to create motivation for socio-economic development, as well as solve problems caused by climate change.Therefore, in Resolution 31/2016/QH14 dated November 22, 2016, the National Assembly ratified the policy to "Stop the Ninh Thuan nuclear power project".

By Thanh Nguyen/ Ha Thanh