Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Vietnam expert states country needs 20 nuclear power plants

Vietnam needs 20 nuclear power plants
Mr.Dinh Duc Huu, Chairman & CEO of American Technologies, Inc.
Dr. Dinh Duc Huu is the first Vietnamese � American who has license on operating nuclear power plant. He is now the President and CEO of American Technologies, Inc � (ATI), a 100% foreign invested company, performing in the fields of Eco-tourism, Information Technology, Aquaculture, and Oil & Gas exploration and exploitation in Vietnam. He believes that in order to maintain an annual growth rate of 7-8%, Vietnam should build around 20 nuclear power plants.

UN environmental experts have made an important conclusion in a recent world climate conference held in Bangkok.

They said that nuclear power should be seriously taken into consideration and seen as a solution to prevent the global warming.

The earth warming results in remarkable changes of conventional climate models, leading to drought, flood, storm, earthquake and negative effect on human beings.

In Vietnam, a pre-feasible project on the first ever nuclear power plant construction is in the pipeline, which has a capacity of around 2400 megawatt and is located in the province of Binh Thuan. Once being approved, it will come into operation in 2017 - 2020.

Dr. Dinh Duc Huu is the first Vietnamese � American who has license on operating nuclear power plant. He is now the President and CEO of American Technologies, Inc � (ATI), a 100% foreign invested company, performing in the fields of Eco-tourism, Information Technology, Aquaculture, and Oil & Gas exploration and exploitation in Vietnam. He believes that in order to maintain an annual growth rate of 7-8%, Vietnam should build around 20 nuclear power plants.

DDH: Nuclear power plant construction is already included in Vietnam government�s plan. I am well experienced and considered an expert in this field and being a Vietnamese, I deem it my duty to make petition to the government and notify Vietnamese people of the issue. We need to do right now to capture such opportunity when the government has had a plan for that. And according to me, two things earned our attentions as followed:

First, oil and gas will soon be exhausted, so it should be used for key objectives other than producing electricity. When I was invited to Libya to counsel its government on nuclear power plant construction, their scientists told me such a simple thing � instead of oil, Libya would use nuclear energy for electricity production. And this would be a good example for Vietnam.

Hydroelectricity exhausted, too

The second reason is that, hydroelectricity is going to be exhausted as well. Locations suitable for building big hydroelectricity plant are no longer available. There is no different with coal. Furthermore, people around the world are trying to prevent the environment from being polluted, ozone layer from being destroyed and the earth from getting warmer. Scientists have clearly affirmed that danger. Therefore using coal for electricity is becoming limited and on a decreased trend.

Other energy sources to produce electricity like wind and sun are still on research phase, its application has remained in small scale . In 20 years, Vietnam will grow drastically and chances are such economic engine is likely overheated. Korea used to achieve a growth rate of around 7% per year as the maximum and they are lacking in electricity eventhough 20 nuclear power plants were in built in 20 years. Presently, 10 more plants are being built to meet increasing demand.

Vietnam, a bigger nation in terms of population and areas, would enjoy a faster growth. So electricity in need to maintain the annual growth rate of 7-8% will be higher than that of Korea. That why we have to build at least 20 nuclear power plants other than 1 or 2 in the next 20 years.

50% from Nuclear Power

BBC: Why such a developing country like Vietnam needs up to 20 nuclear power plants? Do you take into account of the human resource, infrastructure and the cost needed?

Dinh Duc Huu In my opinion 40% of electricity should be generated from nuclear energy in the next 20 years. The rest should come from other sources. Then, we can see three main sources. First, nuclear power plays a key role as it is sustainable long-lasting. Second, hydroelectricity in Vietnam is working quite well and it will make up a large portion. The rest come from coal and oil.
That is a smart solution for future energy industry. it will enable stability of the national energy security. Energy industry should always be one step in advance. Now we still lack of one source which needs to be fulfilled right now. In the next five years, we will witness seriousness of this issue since without timely consideration, we would face severe electricity shortage.

BBC: Is it true that it is cheaper and less time-consuming to build a new nuclear power plant than before?

Dinh Duc Huu Over the last 20 years, there were 3 main reasons that made nuclear power inconvenient and tricky to build as it is right now. Firstly, the second generation of nuclear power plant was not perfect in terms of safety system. It was costly and hierarchical. Second was the approval procedure to build such plants. It was complicated at that time. It was the people�s ignorance that laid a series of barriers to translate this into reality.

The third reason was that other energy sources used to be abundant and at reasonable price, especially oil price which was around 15 to 20 dollars per barrel. Things changed fast since then. Now oil price fluctuates around $70. And the above-mentioned pressed all the right buttons for scientiests perfecting nuclear power technology. And the latest design coded AP1000 of US-based Westinghouse company is currently considered the world champion in the field.
For what reason I give out that idea? Because Chinese people are very smart. They held an international competition on nuclear power plant design in five to seven years, attracting the participation of first-class companies from Russia, Japan, America, Canada, UK and France. Chinese people became jury and victory finally fell into the hand of the Americans. The design of the Westinghouse granted the first prize. Then China signed a 10-billion-dollar contract with the US to build four new plants immediately and 40 others in the future.

BBC: time to build a new plant has been cut by half so it is not very difficult to build more plants in a shorter time nowadays?

Dinh Duc Huu So far, two turning points have been seen in terms of nuclear energy investment and utilization. First is the higher safety and second is the lower cost. Earlier, it took ten years to build a new plant but now is only three years. It is no longer in need of some bulky equipments and it is safer and cheaper.

A nuclear plant with an output capacity of 2400 megawatt, life-span of 60 years and a possible extension of 20 years, could be equally effective as that of Bach Ho oil rig in Vietnam. So would you like 20 units like Bach Ho? The answer is simply yes. Then do it. we have enough resource to do it. And don�t be hesitative because the starting point of Korea was not as favorable as that of Vietnam.

I was trained by the US to fulfill from the simplest tasks to the most sophisticated ones and I am competent for running a nuclear power plant. it is like a good hen to breed many more capable chicken. Now I believe it is time to help our country and that is my great honor. Once I am assigned by Prime Minister, I would be very pleased to start.

BBC: Safety is always the top priority for a nuclear power plant. What would you do to ensure it and to promote it?

Dinh Duc Huu: the core rule of safety in a nuclear power plant operation is to cool down reactors. It is as simple as that reactors must always have enough water so that it will not be burnt out. That is the key. It means reactors should not be in state of water shortage.

People used to make a very hierarchical system. Pump is usually hundred meters away from reactors and located at low positions while a reactor is too high. So when there is an incident, like we need water immediately when a house is on fire, it is hard to solve problem in the face of water deficiency.

BBC: You mean the new generation reactor is much safer than the old ones in terms of operating principle?

Dinh Duc Huu: Firstly, the point is that whether the pipeline, the pump and valve are ready or not? Secondly, when they are all in place but it takes much time to pump water then it is basically wrong with the design. It makes reactor construction very costly and complicated as lots of money was poured into the system of pump, waterspout, pipeline and valves.

And for safety reason, there must always be two systems: A and B. B is a backup in case A is not working. Besides, it must be designed to deal with earthquake or other issues. especially the environment problem, we have to make sure that it will not cause any harms to the system. It is like raising army for 10 years but using for battlefield just once.

Under such circumstance, your army must be completely strong. So it is extremely expensive to make that standby system. Not only construction is very complicated but a regular maintenance is required as well.

Trial run should be periodically done within a week or a couple of days and it is extremely complicated. That is why a nuclear power plant became very expensive. The safety system of the old generation reactor always accounts for 35-40% total cost. So the total cost and time to construct a plant is continuosly escalated.

Now this problem has been solved. reactor designers have come to a conclusion that - simplication is the golden thumb rule. And the law of gravity force is adopted. A reactor will include a very big steel and cement cover called containment and its top is left empty.

Then a huge water tank is installed on the top of a reactor. That tank has two big pipes directly coming down into a reactor. When any problems pop up, two valves will be opened and water, through those pipes, will be poured into that reactor until it cools down. No radioactive substances would be leaked out. I tried to explain this technique in a simple way since a description with more technical terms might result in incomprehension. (source: BBC)

Bvom News - 28/06/2007

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