Hoang Anh Tuan, director general, Viet Nam Atomic Agency, tells Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) that Viet Nam will only develop its nuclear energy when conditions are mature.
Will you give us an overall picture of nuclear power development in the world?
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in May, there were 438 nuclear power reactors in operation world wide. Following the Fukushima incident in Japan in April 2011, many countries expressed concerns about the safety of nuclear plants. Germany even declared that by 2020 there would be no nuclear power plants in that country.
However, in reality the number of nuclear power plants in operation following the Fukushima incidents remains almost the same. Nuclear energy now accounts for about 11per cent of energy consumption world wide - and energy demand is increasing. This is a strong indication that nuclear energy will keep developing.
For example, following the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant incident in 1979, the United States started to build new nuclear power plants. More recently, last March, Russia and Jordan signed an agreement on the construction and operation of the first nuclear power plant in Jordan. Meanwhile, other nations, including India, South Korea, China, Iran, Finland and Belarus have been building nuclear power plants with the latest technology.
In the current context of global warming, nuclear energy is still the best option as it does not create a greenhouse effect, one of the factors blamed for climate change. In addition, the cost of nuclear energy in many countries is cheaper than that of coal-fired energy, geo-energy, wind energy or hydro energy.
The IAEA believes the tendency for more nuclear power development will increase rapidly.
Will you tell us about the construction process of the Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant 1?
Under the National Assembly Resolution 41/2009/QH 12, the ground breaking ceremony for the Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant 1 was launched in 2014. The first generator will be put into operation in 2020. However, by now the site of the plant and investment is still in the process of completion and approval.
In addition, following the Fukushima incident, the government has asked agencies to come up with the most up to date safety designs and technology for the plant. That's why construction will only start when all safety conditions are available. This is the reason for the delay.
At present, owner of the Ninh Thuan nuclear project, Electric Viet Nam Corporation (EVN), is working with consultants on the location of the project and investment. In addition, EVN has presented to the Ministry of Science and Technology a report on project safety.
It has also presented a report on environmental assessment to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment - and a report on general activities to the Ministry of Planning and Investment. However, there remains quite a lot of work to be done. Hopefully, next year the final proposal will be presented to the National Assembly for approval.
In your opinion, how many experts, engineers and operators will be needed to operate the Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant 1?
It is projected that we'll need about 440 university and post university graduates, plus 460 graduates from colleges and 200 technicians. From 2010 to 2014, the Ministry of Education and Training sent 323 students to Russia to study nuclear power plants. Another 10 graduates were sent to further their degrees on nuclear energy.
In the same period, EVN also sent 30 students to study nuclear energy in Japan and Russia. In addition, the Ministry of Science and Technology has regularly organised short courses on nuclear energy for staff working in the field, including people in public relations.
It is reported that Viet Nam and Russia have been discussing a plan to establish a new nuclear research centre. Will you elaborate further?
On November 22, 2011, the science ministry and Russia signed an agreement on the establishment of a nuclear research centre. Under the agreement, the Russian government will provide Viet Nam with US$500 million in preferential loans.
The key component of the project focuses on the construction of a nuclear reactor with a capacity of about 15MWt. This is 30 times bigger than the present Da Lat nuclear reactor in Viet Nam.
The establishment of the nuclear research centre is to further promote Viet Nam's capacity in its research on nuclear energy and development, including calculation, design, equipment, nuclear safety and others. — VNS