20 August 2010 – Cambodia is looking into nuclear power as a future energy source to meet rising domestic demand, although construction of a plant is still years away, a top government official said on Friday.
Cambodian scientists have begun to study nuclear technology in a bid to keep apace with Southeast Asian neighbours planning to build plants in the next few years, said Ith Praing, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.
“(Nuclear power) is a possibility because our neighbours are doing it, so we have to study it and see how dangerous it is,” Ith Praing told Reuters. “It’s still a long way to go, even by 2030, we will not have used all of our resources,” he added.
Ith Praing said an assessment of the potential costs on a nuclear energy programme had yet to be made and the government was still focused on hydropower as an electricity source. Cambodia last year said it wanted to attract about $3bn in foreign investment to build six hydropower plants by 2018.
Vietnam, which is currently chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), last month called on members to consider using nuclear power for peaceful purposes as Asia faces rising energy needs to fuel economic growth.
Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation has offered to help ASEAN countries to build nuclear power plants and develop its safe use in a region where energy agencies estimates primary power demands will climb 2.5 per cent annually until 2030.
Cambodia’s neighbour, Vietnam, plans to start building its first nuclear power plant in 2014 using Russian technology, a state-run newspaper reported in June.
Thailand is looking to develop nuclear power to reduce its dependence on natural gas and is planning to build four 1000 MW nuclear power plants at a total cost of about $8bn. Two of these plants are expected to feed power into the grid in 2020 and the remaining two in 2021.