The Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at RSIS and Pacific Forum co-chaired the annual meeting of the CSCAP-Nuclear Energy Experts Group from 2 to 3 August 2023. Around 40 participants from Asia-Pacific countries discussed key nuclear governance issues related to nuclear energy and the clean energy transition, the impact of Small Modular Reactors (SMR) and other emerging reactor technology, and the key roles of the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy and other Asia-Pacific networks.
The meeting examined the expanding role of nuclear power in the clean energy transition of Asia-Pacific countries with established nuclear energy programmes like India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. There is also notable progress in countries that are considering to use nuclear energy, primarily through future deployment of SMRs such as in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. Nuclear power is targeted to complement renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal) given that the latter would not be adequate to supply the growing energy demand in the Asia-Pacific, especially in Southeast Asia.
The group deliberated on current business and technological developments in SMR commercialisation in the Asia-Pacific. US-based upstart, NuScale, is making headway in the Philippines and Indonesia, but the larger conglomerate entities like Samsung, Mitsubishi, GE-Hitachi, and Rolls-Royce, as well as Russian and Chinese nuclear vendors also possess the industrial scale to compete and capture potential contracts in the region.
The group concluded that key nuclear governance implications encompassing nuclear safety, security, and safeguards have to be carefully addressed by all state and non-state stakeholders, in coordination with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to ensure safe and secure deployment of SMRs and other advanced nuclear reactors in the Asia-Pacific.