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KUALA LUMPUR: Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster has not deterred the Malaysian government from continuing to pursue a nuclear energy plan.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said that the government was in the midst of analysing Malaysia’s suitability for nuclear energy.

“We’re still studying nuclear energy as an option for the generation of electricity, while taking into consideration the instability of the Japanese nuclear reactor caused by a recent earthquake,” said Najib said in a written response in Parliament.

“The government is analysing short and long-term plans, taking into account all infrastructural aspects recommended by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).”

He was responding to a question posed by Hee Loy Sian (PKR-PJ Selatan) who asked if the government would abandon its plans to build a nuclear reactor in light of the Fukushima disaster.

In mid-March, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was damaged when an earthquake and subsequent tsunami rocked eastern Japan.

Several nuclear reactors at the plant experienced a full meltdown, which led the Japanese government to initiate massive evacuation and cleanup efforts.

Nuclear plants by 2021

The cleanup efforts are still ongoing, with nuclear experts trying to contain the situation from deteriorating further.

Several developed countries, including Switzerland and Germany, have since announced plans to withdraw from using nuclear energy.

Malaysia, however, appears to have no such reservations. Najib said that many nuclear energy-using countries around the world were running stress tests on their reactors in light of Fukushima.

He said that Malaysia’s “relevant government agencies” would be studying the stress tests on these reactors, and using them as studies for considering nuclear energy in the country.

He added that other studies, including looking into suitable reactor sites, were being considered.

The government intends to build two 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plants by 2021, under its Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

 

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As the world’s population increases and there is continued comparison to the current western European, Japanese, and North American living standards, there is likely to be demand for more electrical power. Energy sources available in the world include coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, and gas. In addition, fusion had been originally proposed as the long-term source.

Every form of energy generation has advantages and disadvantages as shown in the table below.

Source

Advantages

Disadvantages

Nuclear
  • Fuel is inexpensive
  • Energy generation is the most concentrated source
  • Waste is more compact than any source
  • Extensive scientific basis for the cycle
  • Easy to transport as new fuel
  • No greenhouse or acid rain effects
  • Requires larger capital cost because of emergency, containment, radioactive waste and storage systems
  • Requires resolution of the long-term high level waste storage issue in most countries
  • Potential nuclear proliferation issue
Coal
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to recover (in U.S. and Russia)
  • Requires expensive air pollution controls (e.g. mercury, sulfur dioxide)
  • Significant contributor to acid rain and global warming
  • Requires extensive transportation system
Hydroelectric
  • Very inexpensive once dam is built
  • Government has invested heavily in building dams, particularly in the Western U.S.
  • Very limited source since depends on water elevation
  • Many dams available are currently exist (not much of a future source[depends on country])
  • Dam collapse usually leads to loss of life
  • Dams have affected fish (e.g. salmon runs)
  • Environmental damage for areas flooded (backed up) and downstream
Gas / Oil
  • Good distribution system for current use levels
  • Easy to obtain (sometimes)
  • Better as space heating energy source
  • Very limited availability as shown by shortages during winters several years ago
  • Could be major contributor to global warming
  • Very expensive for energy generation
  • Large price swings with supply and demand
  • Liquified Natural Gas storage facilities and gas transmission systems have met opposition from environmentalists.
 

CONCLUSION:

Throughout the world, we need every energy source we can getincluding NUCLEAR. As one can see from the table above, all energy sources have BOTH advantages AND disadvantages. Nuclear has a number of advantages that warrant its use as one of the many methods of supplying an energy-demanding world. Even with conservation efforts, energy demand has been and will continue to increase. Other factors can accelerate that increase, e.g. the proposed shift to electric cars to meet environmental air quality goals. In using each and every one of these forms of energy production, we need to make sure we conserve as much as we can so we leave sources for future generations. Energy suppliers need to ensure that they do not contribute to short and long-term environmental problems. Governments need to ensure energy is generated safely to that neither people nor the environment are harmed.