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SE Asia may push nuclear option as alternatives prove too costly

Southeast Asian governments could be pushed towards nuclear power as they can ill-afford alternative options such as increasing fuel imports and renewable sources to meet their surging energy needs.

“Moving away from nuclear to renewables to whatever is more costly, it means more imports, which means less energy security,” former International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Nobuo Tanaka said in an interview with Reuters at Singapore International Energy Week.

While some countries announced plans to exit nuclear power after Fukushima, nations such as Thailand and Malaysia have concluded that they cannot abandon it. “In the longer term, you cannot neglect the possibility of nuclear. We are pursuing and looking at it microscopically. But it will happen only past 2020,” said Idris Jala, Malaysia’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s office.

Vietnam has committed to building a nuclear power plant while Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are in various stages of conducting feasibility studies.

However, the long lead times for new nuclear plants will mean that the first reactor would not come online for at least another decade.

Meanwhile, it is expected that Southeast Asia’s demand for power will grow to 163GW in 2020 from a current 92GW.

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