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Vietnam Reconsiders Nuclear Power Options in Decade Energy Master Plan

Previous plans to build nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuan Province were scrapped in 2016, but the projects might be coming back in the near future.

Tuoi Tre reports that the Institute of Energy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade is drafting a master plan for electricity development for the period from 2021 to 2030, with an outlook toward 2045. In addition to raising the proportion of renewable energy in Vietnam's energy mix and increasing energy imports, the institute is considering resuming nuclear power projects after 2035.

Accordingly, these facilities would reach 1,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity by 2040, and 5,000 MW by 2045.

Previously, two nuclear power plants had been planned in Ninh Thuan in cooperation with Japan and Russia, but these were scrapped in 2016 due to economic reasons, as such projects cost billions of dollars.

Trần Viết Ngãi, chairman of the Vietnam Energy Association, told the news source that bringing nuclear plans back online would be a smart move, as it is a stable source of power that creates lower carbon emissions than coal-fired power plants.

He also suggested beginning with the cancelled nuclear plants in Ninh Thuan, as site clearance and compensation had already been completed, while negotiations with the two lender countries were underway.

Dr. Nguyễn Mạnh Hiến, former director of the energy institute and member of the 2021-2030 energy plan drafting team, added that nuclear power would be able to ensure safety for power supply and fill gaps in case of incidents involving other power sources.

Nguyễn Quân, the former minister of science and technology, added that if Vietnam wants to move forward with nuclear power from 2035, it needs to start working immediately: "If we were to carry out the 1,000 MW initial project in that year, it would be difficult to implement it without restarting relevant projects right now. Fifteen years to develop nuclear power is a very short period because we will completely depend on foreign countries."

Vietnam has committed to increasing its share of renewable energy production, and has made great strides, particularly in solar power growth, but it is struggling to meet surging electricity demand without resorting to coal, a power source that is increasingly being phased out around the world.

Nuclear power is not without its detractors, either. Germany, for example, plans to phase this source (in addition to coal) out of its energy mix, while concern over the safety of nuclear energy increased globally following the 2011 Fukishima Daiichi disaster in Japan.

[Photo: Two nuclear reactors under construction at a nuclear power plant in India/Flickr user IAEA Imagebank]

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