Vietnam says nuclear power plant delay won’t cause shortage

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Vietnam will not suffer from power shortages due to the delay in construction of its first nuclear power plant until 2020 since around 10 thermal power plants would be built by then, the chief of the Vietnam Energy Association said.

Tran Viet Ngai, chairman of the VEA, told news website thoibaokinhtesaigon Friday that by 2020 some major thermal power plants would be built and go on stream in the south.

They include Long Phu 1 and 2, Duyen Hai 1, 2, and 3, and Vinh Tan 2 and 4, which would add nearly 10,000 megawatts capacity, he said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced that the country’s first nuclear power projects, Ninh Thuan 1 and 2, to be built in the central province of the same name starting this year, would be postponed since Vetnam is not yet ready.

The original plan envisaged that by 2015 Ninh Thuan 1 would be finished with preparatory tasks like site clearance and choosing contractors and main technology experts, and by 2020 would be built and go on stream with an annual capacity of around 1,000 MW.

Explaining the delay, Ngai said the financial plan for the project is still under discussion, with Vietnam and lender countries yet to reach a final decision.

For Ninh Thuan 1, Russia has agreed to lend Vietnam 80 percent of the cost, while for Ninh Thuan 2, Japan wants Vietnam to contribute 30 percent of the cost.

Ngai also said that estimating the cost of main items like technology and equipment, which will decide the total cost of the project, is still going on.

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For nuclear power, the primary factor is technology, and it is obvious that Vietnam needs to choose an optimal technology which fits its budget, he said.

When the project was approved in 2009, it was expected to cost more than US$10 billion.

Nguyen Cuong Lam, deputy general director of state-owned utility EVN and chairman of the project, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that Vietnam is proceeding carefully, putting safety first.

He also revealed that the Ninh Thuan project has not been evaluated and Vietnam has not yet zeroed in on the technology.

The government has not announced a reason for the delay to 2020.

Le Tuan Phong, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's General Department of Energy, told Tuoi Tre that the ministry is considering making a report to the government about the delay but all preparatory steps like land clearance and construction of roads and power lines are proceeding as per the original plan.

This month, during his visit to Vietnam and Ninh Thuan Province, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency said a nuclear plant is a “huge” project and mistakes and problems during construction and operation are inevitable.

Provincial authorities and managers of the proposed plants should therefore not rush and prepare carefully to ensure complete safety, with the plants built to survive earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, he said.

He also suggested setting up an independent regulatory agency to be in charge of the safety of the Ninh Thuan 1 plant.

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