EAST ASIA’S NUCLEAR OUTLOOK

29 MART 2011

EAST ASIA’S NUCLEAR OUTLOOK The 9.0 scale earthquake which hit Japan and the tsunami which followed have damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant. The damage to the plant was caused by the tsunami, which was greater than predicted. Since that day, renewed debate on nuclear energy has been raging around the world. Why nuclear energy? The global conjecture depends on great part on the “balance of energy”.

All countries, economies, systems, firms and individuals have need of constant, secure, cheap and sustainable energy. High energy consumption makes this requisite for survival. Every growing economy has to abide by these principles of energy security. These principles also meet the eye as valid political and economic criteria from the perspective of international relations. After a brief look at the significance of nuclear energy by country, we shall examine the nuclear outlook of countries located in East Asia.

Japan Asia’s first nuclear energy plant was completed in Japan in 1963. The oldest nuclear plant still in use in Japan is the Tsuruga 1 Nuclear Plant which dates back from 1969. There are 17 nuclear plants in Japan. These contain a total of 54 reactors. Total present capacity is 49,112 MW. Construction continues on a reactor with a capacity of 1,373 MW. On the other hand six reactor blocs with a combined capacity of 2,004 MW have been deactivated. Japan’s largest nuclear plant is the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant which houses seven reactor blocs. This is also the largest nuclear plant in the world.
 
Japan meets 30 per cent of its electricity requirement through nuclear power plants. Japan also ranks third in the world in terms of use of nuclear energy. China According to data from the Chinese National Energy Agency (NEA) China will increase its nuclear capacity by 40 gigawatts as part of the five year plan covering the 2011-2015 period. By way of comparison to illustrate what a large increase this is, it should be said that China’s present capacity is 10.8 gigawatts from 13 plants. (In Fukushima, 9.7 gigawatts, that is a fifth of Japan’s nuclear capacity, went off the grid.) According to reporting by the Xinhua news agency, the NEA emphasises that all nuclear plants in the country are safe. According to the same piece of reporting,
 
China does not intend to change its planning regarding energy. Chinese Environment Minister Zhang Lijun has also announced that the nuclear plants are safe. Lijun stated that the said plants had been built with more advanced technology than the reactors at Fukushima. South Korea South Korea is among East Asian countries which have prioritised nuclear energy in order to overcome fossil fuel dependence. South Korea has 21 reactor blocs in 4 plants. The country’s total present capacity is 19,368 MW and it continues its construction of two plants and five reactors. The total capacity of these was previously announced as 5,800 MW. The first reactor in South Korea was built in 1977 in Gori and is still in use. The Uljin and Yeonggwang nuclear plants, each of which has six reactor blocs and energy capacity of 5,900 MW are known as the largest facilities. South Korea procures 39 per cent of its total energy requirement from nuclear energy. According to annual energy output figures, South Korea ranks sixth in the world for its use of nuclear power.
 
South Korea is to build the Braka Nuclear Power Plant in the UAE, at a distance of 300 kilometres to Abu Dhabi. Agreement of the USD 20 billion worth investment project had been reached in December 2009. Of course, South Korea is confident in its technology. However, rising activity at the Mount Baekdu volcano at the Chinese border and the military nuclear activity in North Korea are important causes for concern. Taiwan Taiwan has three nuclear power plants. Total present capacity from six reactor blocs is 5,178 MW. Construction is underway on two reactor blocs with a combined capacity of 2,700 MW. The country’s oldest nuclear plant Chin Shan 1 was built in 1977 and is still active. Taiwan’s largest nuclear plant is the Kuosheng plant which has two reactors and a capacity of 2,004 MW. Taiwan meets 22 per cent of its electricity requirements from nuclear sources.

Pakistan Pakistan’s has two nuclear power plants. Both plants have two reactor blocs. The country is currently building a new reactor bloc with 325 MW capacity to supplement its present total capacity of 462 MW. Pakistan meets 3 per cent of its total electricity requirement from nuclear sources. India India has 6 nuclear energy plants. These pants contain a total of 18 reactor blocs. India intends to increase its present total capacity of 4,560 MW by 4,120 MW through the construction of six new reactor blocs. Construction of these reactors is underway. India activated its first reactor bloc in 1969. The Tarapur 1 reactor is still in use. The Tarapur 1 nuclear plant consists of four reactor blocs and has a total output capacity of 1,400 MW. India meets 3 per cent of its energy requirement from nuclear sources. Indonesia and Others Indonesia wants to build two nuclear reactors.

The reason for this is other important countries in the region such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore are also pursuing nuclear energy. The present nuclear reactors in Indonesia are used for medical and food research and not for energy production. There are also initiatives to build nuclear reactors in the Philippines and Thailand. Vietnam is also determined to lay the foundations for the Ninh Thuan 1 nuclear Plant in 2014. Vietnam wants to activate this plant in 2021.
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