At the Asean+3 conference on nuclear energy on 17 June 2008, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) announced that it would start studying the feasibility of operating a nuclear power plant in Thailand. The study will take two years to complete.
The move comes despite growing opposition by activists aimed at derailing the project. Environmental activists say claims that nuclear power is clean and inexpensive are misleading.
"The nuclear power plant will be required to imply with all 19 criteria issues of the IAEA, so it would help guarantee the safety to a certain level," Dr Kamol, an Egat assistant governor for power plant engineering said.
He also said the study would review suitable sites for a plant, as well as issues dealing with environmental management and prevention, safety standards, human resources, legal and economic matters and project finance.
Soaring fossil fuel prices have resulted in greater interest in nuclear power in Southeast Asia. Besides Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia are also considering nuclear power plants.
Thailand needs to diversify its energy sources, since power consumption was rising by 5% to 6% a year, or 1,000 to 2,000 megawatts per year.
Policymakers say concerns over the ecological impact of dams make new hydropower projects complicated, while coal-fired plants prompt concerns over emissions and air pollution.
The Bangkok Post, 18 Jun 2008, Nuclear programme