NA mulls halting nuclear power projects

Saigontimes

The National Assembly (NA) began looking into the possibility of suspending two major nuclear power projects, Ninh Thuan 1 and Ninh Thuan 2, on the afternoon of November 10 although their feasibility studies have been completed.

The NA was working on a resolution on this matter in the afternoon, as Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh was presenting the draft resolution and Chairman of the NA Committee of Science, Technology and Environment Phan Xuan Dung delivering an evaluation report.

During the fourth plenum of the XII Party Central Committee last month, these two projects were carefully reviewed.

Specifically, the Party Central Committee did a thorough and comprehensive review of all issues related to these two facilities in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan. In the end, the Party, the NA delegation and the Government’s Party Committee were asked to do a report and pass it to the NA for consideration and decision, according to information published after the event.

The NA granted approval in principle for the two projects in 2009. One of the plants would be located in Phuoc Dinh Commune, Thuan Nam District with the involvement of Russia in terms of investment and construction, while the other would be built in Vinh Hai Commune, Ninh Hai District.

The two projects have a combined capacity of 4,000 MW, with total investment capital estimated at VND200 trillion.

The first project was initially scheduled to get off the ground in 2014, with its first nuclear reactor expected to start operation in 2020.

So far, both projects have had their feasibility studies completed and hundreds of personnel in the electricity industry have been sent to Russia for training. Yet, the NA is considering putting them on hold.

The reason is, according to the feasibility studies done by Russian and Japanese consultants, the total cost of these two projects would amount to as high as US$27 billion, with generation cost of about 8.65 U.S. cents per kWh. The two figures are two times higher than those provided in their pre-feasibility studies and no longer competitive as when they received the nod (when the cost of nuclear power was 4.93 U.S. cents a kWh).

Moreover, after the Fukushima incident in Japan, those countries with nuclear technology have made a lot of improvements, while those like Germany have ceased the projects of this kind to avoid risks. In addition, other issues such as the planning for long-term burial of nuclear waste and used fuel rods, and dismantlement upon the expiration of operation have yet to figure out an optimal solution.

Furthermore, economic experts said that if these two projects were carried out, starting with Ninh Thuan 1, public debt and government debt would be pushed up by an additional 4% of GDP, or an average increase of 0.5% a year. Meanwhile, the resolution on the medium-term economic indicators for 2016-2020 passed by the NA keeps the ceiling at 65% for public debt while bringing down budget deficit to 3.5%.

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