Sunday, April 3, 2011

Nuclear energy – a no go for malaysia

In thestar 19.03.11 article ‘time for nuclear review’, I noted there are some points pointed out by the Pemandu that nuclear plan is in fact more beneficial than harmful. However I’m quite sceptical on this as Pemandu says that Malaysia is not in an earthquake belt so housing a nuclear reactor in not problem. I would like to link this situation in Thailand as the country was not located on the earthquake belt but its island – Phuket was hit by tsunami in 2004. So it’s quite irrelevant so say that Malaysis is a safe country, not affected by earthquake or tsunami. But bear in mind that coastal areas are most vulnerable if the earthquake or tsunami strikes. Besides, the nuclear reactor needs a lot of water for its cooling system and the nuclear plant has to be stationed near the coastline which has abundant of water. Apart from location, there are external forces that might disrupt the electricity supply by the nuclear plant like flood, earthquake, or even tsunami. One of the examples is the back-up generator to the water pump in Fukushima Daiichi plant damaged by tsunami, causing the nuclear reactor to overheat, forcing the engineers to vent the nuclear core, thus releasing radioactive into the air. Besides, the crops surrounding the plant have also been exposed to radiation, not fit for human consumption. Furthermore, our land is fertile and we just can’t afford to allow any radioactive contamination on our soil as it would cause harm to our plantation and forest. So there is too much uncertainty on the safety of the nuclear plant even if all the security measures are taken into consideration in constructing and operating the nuclear site.

Another comment by pemandu is that renewable energy is not always available and is constrain by natural forces like solar is only available on daytime. However there is one article on wikepedia which states that there in fact storage for electricity like molten salt which is low cost and can deliver heat at temperatures compatible with conventional power systems. Another alternative is storing excess electricity generated from the solar in rechargeable battery for off-grid photovoltaics (PV) or to transmission grid for grid-tied systems just like our electricity transmission grid.

Besides I would like the government explore more avenue to generate electricity using natural gas. As we know our country has abundant gas reserve – 2.35 trillion cu m compared to oil reserve of 2.9 billion bbl. Why not more gas-powered plant being built to utilise the abundant gas reserve we have had rather than exporting the gas for higher profit margin.

Besides I noted oil palm residue like empty fruit bunch or tree trunk could be used for biomass. The government should give incentives in the form of grant to get the biomass power plant going. Besides this is one of the ways to cut carbon emission rather than letting the residue emitting the greenhouse gas to the environment. This measure is in-line with the government’s economy transformation programme (ETP) and the government have to allocate more funds rather than private funding by the independent millers and plantation companies.

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