Going nuclear in South-east Asia: Promises, perils and scepticism

Some countries in Asean have made moves or expressed an intention to acquire nuclear power in a bid to meet their burgeoning energy needs and fulfil their commitment to net-zero carbon emissions. Asian Insider looks at why countries in the region have been hesitant over the nuclear power option and whether this can be bypassed altogether in their quest for clean energy.

More than a decade after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, nuclear power is getting a new boost in South-east Asia.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam have made moves or declared an intention this year to acquire nuclear power, in a bid to meet their net-zero carbon emissions pledges and growing energy needs amid a post-Covid-19 pandemic energy crisis that has pressured nations to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

In a 2018 study, the Asean Centre for Energy had identified the above three countries, along with Malaysia and Thailand, as nuclear power “front runners” in the region based on their advanced legal and regulatory frameworks, nuclear energy infrastructure and availability of experts running their national research centres.

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Mara Cepeda, Ang Qing and David Fogarty