Stop plans for nuclear plants, mega dams

SM Mohamed Idris

Modified 18 Mar 2011, 7:53 am

In light of what has happened in Japan, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) urge the Malaysian Government to immediately stop the idea of going nuclear or building any more mega dams in addressing the issue of a ‘serious' energy crisis.

Presently, Malaysia's electricity consumption amounts to approximately 14,000 megawatt (MW) but we have an installed capacity of 23,000 MW.

That gives Malaysia an extremely comfortable margin as the government's target is only 20 percent.

The tragedy that has hit Japan only shows that calamities can strike anytime and anywhere.

Just because Malaysia is not situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire or the Alpide Belt, it does not mean that we are safe from natural disasters.

The tectonic plates are constantly moving and there could come a time in the near future that Malaysia may be within the striking distance of natural calamities.

The world has shown enough pain and suffering from natural disasters in the past for us to learn from.

Of all electricity generation technologies, nuclear power is one which is capable of catastrophic accidents.

Any country with nuclear aspirations should consider the risk of a catastrophic accident as a major negative attribute of this technology.

Does Malaysia have the capacity to deal with a catastrophic event such as a reactor meltdown or leak and the effects that may reach across space and time?

Is the public willing to accept this risk when cheaper and safer energy alternatives are available?

Worldwide, people have realised that there are safer, cheaper, renewable alternatives to nuclear and mega dams, such as solar and wind energy.

However, the potential of Renewable Energy (RE) as a sustainable and reliable energy source in Malaysia is repeatedly dismissed by the promoters of nuclear energy based on selective and biased analyses on their part.

We believe that with proper, effective regulatory framework and the right fiscal tool on RE, it can contribute significantly to Malaysia's energy reserves, further negating the need for investment in costly, dangerous and dirty energy like nuclear.

Another way to reduce energy consumption is by improving energy efficiency (EE) in all sectors. In fact, EE is one of the objectives of the National Energy Policy that was supposed to be implemented in the Eighth Malaysia Plan.

The effort by the Malaysian government on the promotion of energy-efficiency needs to be intensified as it is moving too slowly.

Besides this, energy self-sufficiency is the best guarantee of energy security.

This can be achieved by a diversity of sustainable, renewable energies at medium-, small- and micro-generation scales, according to resources locally available, so that energy is used at the point of generation, saving up to 69 percent of the energy lost through long distance transport of electricity from big centralised power plants and the associated carbon emissions.

Finally, combining energy efficiency measures and renewable energy to meet our energy demand would eliminate any justification for nuclear power and mega dams.

Thus we strongly urge the Malaysian government to cancel its plan of developing nuclear energy and building more mega dams.

SM Mohamed Idris is President of Sahabat Alam Malaysia and Consumers' Association of Penang.

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