A 8.9 Richter Scale earthquake hit Japan and damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. As a result, 2 reactors are damaged and yesterday there was an explosion at the nuclear power plant. Considering this, here’s a brief recap of from PM Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at the 2010 Singapore Energy Lecture.
Globally, nuclear energy will be an important part of the solution to mankind’s energy needs, and to tackle global warming.
- It is a clean source of energy, giving off low carbon emissions
- But harnessing nuclear energy is a highly complex and long-term enterprise
- There are significant issues relating to safety and disposal of nuclear waste
- There is often strong resistance (i) From the green movement. (ii) From populations who have witnessed accidents like Chernobyl and are anxious about safety.
- But without nuclear energy, world cannot make sufficient progress in dealing with global warming
- Hence countries are expanding their nuclear energy programmes. (i) e.g. France, China, Japan, Korea. (ii) e.g. US has announced it will build more plants – the first in three decades.
In Southeast Asia, several countries have expressed their intention to build nuclear power plants.
- Developing countries will face even more challenges than developed countries.
- They must first build up their capability base, institute proper systems and standards and develop a strong safety culture before embarking on such projects.
For Singapore, our small size poses an additional challenge.
- Safety is a major concern, especially given our high urban density
- But we cannot afford to dismiss the option of nuclear energy altogether.
- We should keep up with new developments. (i) Technologies for smaller and safer reactors, with more fuel-efficient designs that reduce the amount of waste produced. (ii) Experience in other countries.
- It will be a long time before we take any decision on nuclear energy.
- But we should ready ourselves to do so.
Give Singapore the ability to exercise such an option, should it one day become necessary and feasible. Hence we have to start building up our capabilities now.
- Link up with the experts in this field.
- Train a few of our own engineers and scientists.
- Then we can critically assess developments in nuclear technology and decide on the feasibility of nuclear power deployment in the future.