Nuclear power plan in pipeline

(01-11-2008)

Models of nuclear power plants at the 2008 International Nuclear Power Fair in Ha Noi. Two nuclear plants will be built in the central province of Ninh Thuan from 2020 to 2022. • VNA/VNS Photo Trong Duc

HA NOI • The Ministry of Industry and Trade has announced a plan to build two nuclear power plants in the central province of Ninh Thuan which will be operational from 2020 to 2022.

The announcement was made at an international forum on nuclear power, held yesterday in Ha Noi by the ministry and the Viet Nam Energy Association.

Phan Minh Tuan, head of the preparation committee for nuclear power, said Ninh Thuan nuclear power plant No 1 would be in Phuoc Dinh Commune, Ninh Phuoc District, covering 540ha. Its two reactors will be put into commercial operation by 2020 and 2021.

The Ninh Thuan plant No 2 will be built in Vinh Hai Commune, Ninh Hai District, covering 556ha. Its two reactors should be put into commercial operation by 2021 and 2022.

As the world faces a growing energy crisis, with limited oil reserves and global warming as a result of carbon emissions, Viet Nam’s interest in nuclear power is appropriate, according to scientists specialising in atomic energy. These experts confirm that the benefits of nuclear power over other traditional sources make nuclear energy by 2020 a viable option for Viet Nam.

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Le Dinh Tien said that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved last July a master plan to implement the programme titled "Strategy to Apply Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purposes to 2020".

Last December, the PM approved a national strategy to develop energy in Viet Nam to 2020 with a view to 2050. The strategy outlines that by 2050, nuclear power should account for 15-20 per cent of Viet Nam’s total power output.

To create a legal framework for atomic energy development in Viet Nam, the National Assembly in June 2008 approved the Atomic Energy Law, which will be valid starting January 1, 2009.

At the forum, Thomas Mazour, an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Division of Nuclear Power, affirmed that Viet Nam was well prepared for the future nuclear power plants.

He said that IAEA was ready to help the countries, including Viet Nam, to upgrade their nuclear safety and prepare for and respond to emergencies.

A leading expert in Viet Nam of atomic energy, Professor Dr Pham Duy Hien, the former head of the Viet Nam Atomic Energy Commission, warned, however that initially only one reactor should be activated.

"From this, we will try to develop a group of experts, as well as infrastructure, and learn how to implement nuclear laws," he said, adding that the project’s success was not only in getting one reactor up and running, but to create an initial foundation for the next steps.

To generate nuclear power by 2020, construction will have to begin by 2015. Such a tight deadline means experts have to begin their work right away. Hien warned that it usually takes 15 years to select and train the plant staff and select suitable people that can be held responsible for national security.

Other experts noted that considering Viet Nam’s current state, building four reactors at the same time may be too risky. China built their first nuclear plant in 1991, with a capacity of just 300MW. Viet Nam’s plans call for four reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000MW.

Professor Dr Tran Dinh Long, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Electricity Power Association, warned that building a nuclear power plant would require astounding technical demands.

"It is not as easy as building a shoe-making factory. We cannot affirm that engineers who have studied for five years will be able to build a nuclear power plant. That’s why scientists must be very careful in selecting technology, equipment and suppliers."

Professor Chu Hao, former deputy minister of science and technology, said that if the country did not really need nuclear power, the plants should be delayed, to wait for more advanced and safer technologies.

Viet Nam has yet to even choose what technologies will be used for its first nuclear power plant.

Dr Vuong Huu Tan, head of the Viet Nam Atomic Energy Commission, outlined the available details of the three separate projects.

The first is to build a nuclear power plant on one site, with two reactors, with a total capacity of 2,000MW to be operational by 2019 and 2020.

The second is to build a plant on two sites, with four reactors (with a total capacity of 4,000MW), with the same technology applied to both sites.

The final plan outlines building a plant on two sites, with four reactors (with a total capacity of 4,000MW), using two different technology models. • VNS

 

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