HANOI Ã¢â‚¬â€ Energy-short Vietnam announced an expansion of its nuclear power programme on Tuesday, with eight plants planned for operation over the next 20 years.
Atomic power will become one of the nation’s key energy sources, according to the decision posted on the government website.
Initial plans called for four reactors but the notice said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had approved eight nuclear facilities, each with at least four reactors, by 2030.
The eight plants will generate a total of 15,000-16,000 megawatts of electricity, the document said.
The government previously announced that a Russian firm had won the contract for Vietnam’s first nuclear power station, which is to begin operation in 2020.
Experts estimated the cost of Vietnam’s initial 4,000-megawatt facility at 11 billion to 18 billion dollars.
The government’s plan calls for “efficient and safe exploitation of nuclear power plants” and aims to increase participation of domestic industries in the projects gradually, with a view to “self reliance in design, building, installation, operation and maintenance of nuclear power plants.”
At an international conference in Hanoi last week, experts said Vietnam must now start to implement safety measures including public oversight for its first nuclear plant.
More than a third of the country’s energy currently comes from hydropower.
Vietnam had a shortage of two billion kilowatt-hours in the first five months of the year, according to a state electricity body.
Foreign businesses have expressed concern about a lack of energy and other infrastructure in Vietnam.
“Consumption of electricity keeps on growing by 15 percent annually, thereby substantially surpassing the economic growth rates,” the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam wrote last month.
Other Southeast Asian countries are exploring the possibility of nuclear power, despite what detractors say is the area’s lack of experience with the technology, and safety concerns in a region prone to natural disasters.