Malaysia will turn to nuclear energy to generate electricity by 2023 as supplies of fossil fuel eventually run out, a minister said according to Saturday news reports.
Energy, Water and Communications Minister Shaziman Mansor said the use of nuclear energy was also an alternative to counter high global oil prices, the Star newspaper reported.
"I will be briefing the cabinet in a fortnight. We have no choice but to start the ball rolling," he was quoted as saying.
"You cannot say you want to use nuclear power in the next few months, and expect everything to be in place," the minister said.
Malaysia in June raised electricity tariffs after coal prices surged but Shaziman said the price of coal was now much higher than the government's estimate of about 75 dollars per tonne.
"The increase in coal prices had been exceptional and we need to act now," Shaziman said.
State utility Tenaga has said it could construct the country's first 1,000 MW nuclear power plant at a cost of 3.1 billion dollars after being asked by the government to look at the option amid surging global oil prices and the country's limited supply of oil and natural gas.
Currently, half of Malaysia's power plants run on gas. Other sources include coal and hydropower.
The government last year said it would build Southeast Asia's first nuclear monitoring laboratory to allow scientists to check the safety of atomic energy programmes in the region.
Agence France-Presse - 9/20/2008 5:24 AM GMT