Thailand’s Nuclear power bid put on back burner
No proposal to construct a nuclear power plant will be made while the Democrat Party is still in power, says Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul.
“The PDP [power development plan] committee will need to look at alternative paths for our energy development,” said Mr Wannarat, adding that other sources include renewable energy, natural gas and clean coal technology.
The revision of Thailand’s 20-year PDP from 2010-2030 is supposed to be finished next month. The current plan includes five nuclear power plants each with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts to come online from 2020-28.
Mr Wannarat said using other energy had its limits and uncertainty. For example, hydropower relied on limited water, so fossil fuel needed to be used as a back-up. “Nuclear energy answers the issue of global warming since it does not release emissions. However, its fate depends on investment costs, safety and public acceptance,” he said.
Witoon Permpongsacharoen, director of the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network, said nuclear power was unnecessary and claimed the Energy Ministry had overestimated demand for electricity.
From 1992 to 2009, the government overestimated power demand by about 30% on average and by as much as 60% on occasions, he said.
“We are still attached to the belief that there will be a never-ending increase in electricity demand when actually there are ups and downs,” Mr Witoon said.
He said it was possible for electricity consumption to become lower despite economic growth, citing California where power demand has been stable since 1975.
Subhin Panyamag, an adviser at the Nuclear Power Plan Development Office, said people usually talked only about negative aspects of nuclear power when radiation has benefits such as helping to cure cancer.
“It’s like a ghost – people are afraid of it because we only talk about how scary it is,” said Mr Subhin.