Energy for Growth Hub
Memo May 22, 2023

[Update] Who in ASEAN is Ready for Nuclear Power?

Future of Energy Tech

Demand for electricity across the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will triple by 2050. Nuclear power is a potential source of clean power to drive industrialization and growing incomes, especially with new smaller, safer, and more flexible designs expected to come to the market over the next decade. The Energy for Growth Hub and Third Way’s interactive map projects electricity demand and assesses nuclear readiness of these countries. Since our 2021 assessment:

1.    Three countries have made real progress


1. Indonesia (Score: Potentially Ready by 2030) signed an agreement with the US Government to participate in the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program. Indonesia selected US-based NuScale as a partner, with the goal of constructing a 462 MW facility. Indonesia may even be upgraded to “Ready by 2030” later this year.

2. The Philippines (Potentially Ready by 2030) was downgraded last year from “ready” to “potentially ready” due to a lack of activity. However, since the publication of our map in October 2022, the new President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has publicly stated a desire to revive the mothballed Bataan plant originally constructed in 1985. The Philippines has also signed on to the United States’ FIRST program, and the country started up a new research reactor in 2022.

3. Thailand (Potentially Ready by 2030) signed an agreement to join the FIRST program. Thailand’s 2021 Power Development Plan lays out a timeline through 2030, including the development of up to 4 GW of power in the mid 2020s, although it is likely this will be delayed.

2.    Vietnam is ready now, but hasn’t made recent progress

4. Vietnam (Ready by 2030) previously agreed to build plants with Japan and Russia. Officials put these plans on hold in favor of gas and coal, but they could be revived. Recently, the country’s industry and trade minister discussed the need for nuclear power to replace coal.

3.    Cambodia, Malaysia, and Myanmar could be ready by 2050 (yellow)

Malaysia operates a research reactor, and all three countries have taken preliminary steps that signal interest in developing nuclear power. None have made significant recent progress.

For more detailed information, see our full checklist.