The DAP secretary-general questioned the necessity of the nuclear plant as Malaysia only requires a 20 per cent energy reserve.
“Malaysians are waiting to be convinced of the economic rationale of a nuclear power plant,” Lim said in a statement issued today.
Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin announced yesterday that the government has approved a nuclear power plant, which will start operating from 2021.
It is the first country in Southeast Asia to announce a nuclear power plant, a sensitive matter in the Asean grouping that has always espoused a nuclear-free zone. Malaysia now relies on a combination of fossil fuels and hydro-power to generate electricity.
Lim noted that Chin said a nuclear plant was needed to meet the country’s increasing demand for energy due to industrialisation, and to ensure energy security with 20 per cent power reserves.
“However, Malaysia’s current reserve margin is double that at 40 per cent, with the current power usage at 14,000MW with a capacity of 23,000MW.
“Further, the proposed RM 15 billion Bakun Dam producing 2,400MW and RM 5 billion Murun Dam producing 900MW, both in Sarawak, will more than meet any increased demand. Clearly, Malaysia has more energy than it needs. Without any economic grounds or energy security justification, why then does Malaysia need a nuclear power plant?” he said.
Lim then queried whether the government would be able to address the safety and environment concerns in order for the project to proceed.
“Further, Malaysians wonder what assurances can be given in relation to safety and environment following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in Ukraine that claimed 56 lives and resulted in 4,000 cancer deaths.
“Unless these environmental and safety concerns are addressed, there is also no economic logic and necessity for building a nuclear power plant in 2021 in a yet to be identified location in Malaysia,” he added.
Chin said his ministry has been given the go-ahead by the Economic Council to start identifying suitable sites but declined to reveal possible sites or the total power to be delivered.
According to Energy Commission’s (Suruhanjaya Tenaga) interim report on the performance of the electricity supply, peninsular Malaysia’s maximum demand was 14,007MW from the installed generation capacity of 19,723MW in 2008.
In the first quarter of 2009, maximum demand was 13,330MW with a capacity of 21,117MW. In the second quarter, maximum demand rose to 14,029 MW.
In East Malaysia and in the same quarter, Sabah’s demand was 704MW from a capacity of 835MW, while Sarawak’s demand was 913MW from 1,237MW output.