Nuclear plants are necessary for electricity generation in Peninsular Malaysia as it will add diversification to the generation mix.
At present, Peninsular Malaysia relies heavily on gas. In FY08/09 alone, 65% of electricity generation comes from gas. It is followed by coal at 29%, and 6% from hydro.
Going forward, most of Malaysia’s fuel sources will be imported, including gas. Fossil fuel will be replenished on real time basis. Any disruption on the supply side could pose major risk in failing to meet demand.
Nuclear power generation is different from other technologies. Fuel is loaded once in 18-24 months cycle. The long fuel cycle allows for better planning and less exposure on supply security risks. Hence, security of supply is guaranteed.
Natural gas for the future could be coming as an import fuel. PETRONAS has indicated that the local gas fields are depleting. Currently, source of natural gas comes from domestic fields as well as export from Joint Development Area (JDA) and from West Natuna.
Production from all these sources has been decreasing, as shown in graph below:
This scenario indicates that Peninsular Malaysia can no longer rely heavily on gas for electricity generation in the future due to its rapid depletion.
Currently, coal for electricity generation is fully imported from other countries which include Indonesia, Australia and South Africa. Supply risk is one of major issues governing coal.
Coal exporting countries could change their policy in the future if they see a need to utilise more for their own local consumption. There is also stiff competition from China and India for coal as these countries are undergoing rapid development. We are also competing with Korea, Japan and Taiwan for coal. This situation definitely exerts tremendous pressure on the price.
Logistic and politics are other issues arising from electricity generation from coal. Coal is transported via ships to the jetty and finally stored at the coal yard inside the plant site. Problem could arise due to bad weather or labour strikes, as this will cause the disruption of coal supply.
These situations expose the country to higher risk of energy security if we are too dependent on one single source.