NGO pushes alternatives to nuclear

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Bangkok Post 22 October 2009

By Yuthana Praiwan 

Efficiency and cutting demand help more 

The development of nuclear power plants by 2020 should be reconsidered, environmental activists urged the government.

The government should work on developing technology that improves energy consumption instead of building new power plants that could trigger another problem, said Chuenchom S. Greecen, an energy researcher from the Palang Thai Group, at a discussion on nuclear power plant development at Government House on Tuesday.

"There are a lot of things that can improve the country's energy consumption efficiency, such as the estimation of demand to reflect actual growth of demand. Also the redesign of electrical equipment for large buildings will help cut power consumption," she said.

"It may not be necessary to build nuclear and coal-fired power plants if policymakers try energy-saving programmes."

More aggressive promotions for renewable energy will also reduce power demand.

Chalotorn Kansuntisukmongkol, an economist from Thammasat University, said safety measures were crucial for nuclear power development regarding reactor leakage and radioactive waste management if a plant is built.

However, Chavalit Pichalai, deputy director-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, argued that improved energy efficiency is already a top priority for energy policymakers.

Leaders are trying to develop alternative and renewable fuel use through subsidies and incentives, Mr Chavalit said.

"We are promoting renewable energy, but we have to focus on how to cut carbon emissions by using nuclear energy because it is one of the cleanest and cheapest options," he said. "The production cost of wind turbines and solar cells remains high and cannot compete with mainstream fuels, so we decided to develop the nuclear power plant project."

Thailand is now conducting a feasibility study for nuclear power plants by Burns and Roe Asia Ltd. The final decision on whether the country will build a nuclear power plant will be made mid-2010.