Thailand is the latest country to consider the use of small modular reactors (SMRs) as a way to augment its power generation capacity, and meet its own carbon neutrality goals.
This initiative will be done through a collaborative effort with the United States, as announced by US Vice-president Kamala Harris during her state visit to the country on Saturday, November 26th.
Harris was in the country for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit where nuclear power is one of the topics that are slated for discussion with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Welcome to NetZero World
America’s nuclear assistance is a part of its ongoing NetZero World Initiative. Launched during the COP26 climate summit held last year in Glasgow, Scotland, NetZero World allows the US government to partner with relevant private companies as well as philanthropists whose primary advocacy revolves around clean energy.
According to an official statement, the US government is extending its technical assistance to Thailand to help the Asian nation deploy SMR technology which is easier to use and maintain than conventional nuclear reactors. Likewise, these are much safer, pose less of a danger to human health and the environment, and do not require human intervention if they need to be shut down ASAP.
The SMRs the US plans to bring to Thailand comply with the highest standards of safety and security. Likewise, these occupy less in terms of space and are so much easier to build and install.
While no timeline was formally given, it is expected that the inclusion of SMRs to augment Thailand’s power sector and drive it closer to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2065.
Along with the provision of SMR technology, the United States is also teaming up with the Thai government to improve the safety of 5G internet. It is also set to build a world-class hospital focused on cancer treatment in the eastern province of Chon Buri.
Overcoming an Aversion to Nuclear Power
All parties involved hope to overcome the fact that Thailand has long had an aversion to nuclear power, especially after the impact that the Fukushima nuclear disaster had on the environment and local residents back in 2011.
However, the country does have a working research reactor which has been operational since 1962, but this is only being used for experimental scenarios.
Previously, Thailand’s Institute of Nuclear Technology proposed the construction of a 20MW reactor site in Ongkharak in the province of Nakhon Nayok. Unfortunately, this initiative never pushed through due to strong opposition from local communities.