YB Peter Chin, convince me please

Green Ink – LB’s monthly environmental column is making a second appearance this month to pose a rebuttal to YB Peter Chin Fah Kui’s defence of the need for nuclear energy, and on other pertinent questions.

Green Ink - A monthly LoyarBurok column

Green Ink - A monthly LoyarBurok column

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui has defended the need for nuclear energy in the country in his reply at the Parliamentary session earlier this week. I have extracted some of his statements, published in The Star on 8 June 2010, and pose my rebuttal along with some other pertinent questions.

“Peninsular Malaysia cannot depend on gas to produce electricity any more due to constraints in supply and unstable prices,”

Generally, nuclear energy is generated using highly enriched uranium and is non-renewable. The commonly traded component of uranium is U3O8 and is currently traded at approximately US$40/lb or equivalent to US$103/kg of uranium equivalent. Price of U3O8 was stable from 1988 to 2005 and was traded between US$8/lb to US$36/lb.

Price movement was more significant in 2006 onwards with the price peaking in June 2007 at US$136/lb, from the lowest US$37.5/lb in Jan 2006 which equates to a fluctuation of 3.6x.2 Industrial price of natural gas in US, between 2006 to-date, peaked at US$13.05/kft3 from a low of US$5.62/kft3, a fluctuation of 2.5x.2

Nearer to home, Tapis blend, a Malaysian crude, was traded between US$59/barrel in Jan 2007, and US$148/barrel in July 2008, a fluctuation of 2.5x.3

I am not an expert in mineral trading, nor am I a mathematician, but please work harder to convince me to expect nuclear energy to be more stable than gas. Currently Canada, Australia, and Kazakhstan supplied more than half of uranium worldwide. When uranium reserve depletes, what will our alternatives be?

“Although the initial cost is high, the operating costs for a nuclear-powered electricity plant is lower than conventional power plants,”

Chin said renewable energy such as solar and wind are not financially viable. Like nuclear, the initial cost for solar may be high, but with increase in demand, the cost of production will naturally lower.

The world’s leading solar companies are now investing in Malaysia as their manufacturing hub, and exporting the photovoltaic panel for power generation. If this is financially viable, I cannot not understand why as the country of manufacture, it is not viable to generate power using solar in Malaysia.

“I believe we must have a mix of renewable and conventional energy sources,”

Look at the energy mix today, we have less than 5% renewable in our energy mix. What concrete action plan is the Minister going to take to improve this? Are we going to stop at saying renewable energy is a non-viable option?

Our Prime Minister recently announced his plan to make Malaysia a high income nation. How will this proposed nuclear plant be part of the plan?

Since we have no experience in the whole cradle to grave process of nuclear power generation, we will have to rely on foreign expertise during the construction of the plant, when the energy is being generated and when it comes to waste disposal. How will Malaysians benefit from this?

Have dinner with me, MP?

Chin said he was unable to answer all the questions posed to him by the MPs, but he invited them to a dinner to meet international nuclear energy experts and discuss their concerns on June 29.

Why not invite me too? Convince me, please.

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Posted on 10 June 2010. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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