By VU TRONG KHANH
HANOI—Vietnam Wednesday signaled it is determined to push ahead in building a fleet of nuclear power stations despite global worries about nuclear safety in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, with the signing of a deal for a Japanese-run feasibility study for two reactors.
"This an important milestone, shows Vietnam's determination to develop nuclear power plants, especially in the face of global economic difficulties and after the incident at Japan's Fukushima plant," Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong said at the signing ceremony.
The country, which faces long-term energy supply shortfalls as domestic production of oil, gas, coal and hydropower is being outpaced by rapid economic growth, already has plans to start building reactors with Russian help from 2014.
In the latest development, Vietnam Electricity Group Wednesday signed a contract with Japan Atomic Power Co. for consulting services to develop a site approval dossier and feasibility study for the country's second nuclear power plant, the companies confirmed.
The Japanese government will fund the ¥2 billion, 18-month study for the Ninh Thuan 2 plant, to be located in the south central region of Vietnam. It will have two advanced light water reactors, each with a designed capacity of 1,000 megawatts.
Vietnam's oil and gas reserves are expected to start shrinking soon and it has started importing coal for its power plants, and most of its hydropower potential has been tapped.
Mr. Vuong said nuclear power will account for 7% of Vietnam's installed generation capacity by 2030.
"We pledge to work hard to ensure the nuclear power development of Vietnam," Japan Atomic Power President Yasuo Hamada said, adding that his company will take account of the lessons learnt from the Fukushima incident.
Separately, an official with Vietnam Electricity said Wednesday that Vietnam is negotiating with Russia to borrow $8 billion to build its first nuclear power plant, the Ninh Thuan 1.
Russia's Rosatom has been chosen to build the first plant, with construction work slated to begin in 2014 and be completed by 2020.
The Vietnamese government said last year that it plans to have 13 nuclear reactors in eight separate plants with a combined capacity of 15,000 MW by 2030.