Victor Nian

Senior Research Fellow

Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore

Feb 22, 2021

Ep. 294 - Victor Nian, Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore
00:00 / 01:04
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Olubunmi Olajide
Hello, Victor, welcome to the Titans of Nuclear podcast. It's a pleasure to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Victor Nian
Thank you, sir. Pleasure to be here.

Olubunmi Olajide
Thank you so much. And we have a very interesting conversation we're about to have right now. But before we get too excited, I want you to take the time to introduce yourself to the audience, a little bit about you and how you got started in the nuclear industry.

Victor Nian
Right? Well, actually, my humble beginnings in the nuclear industry, goes back all the way when I was doing my PhD with the National University of Singapore. So my name is Victor Nian. Now I'm a Senior Research Fellow at the Energy Studies Institute. And actually, my main focus, my research is on atomic energy, both peaceful use and innovative strategy, but not so much on the military applications, but mostly nuclear energy policy, industry development, and looking at different technologies and how they might play a role in decarbonizing our global energy systems. So, when I got started back in 2010, with my PhD, I wasn't really thinking about nuclear at all, at that time, I was not so much of a person that is actually for nuclear. So I started off looking at this issue about sustainability, climate change, decarbonisation. And then I've been talking to my PhD supervisor, and we're having this interesting conversation as nuclear seems to be really big. I mean, back in 2010, this was just before Fukushima. And just before the whole world turns against nuclear, actually, everybody wants to have nuclear energy. And that seems to be the ultimate clean energy for the world. And I got really excited about the technology being something really sophisticated. And I'm a person who likes technology. So I thought, well, maybe that is the place to go into. A year into the work, Fukushima came at the wrong time. So, you know, when I, when I watched the news on the series of developments in Fukushima, with a view, I mean, nowadays, the media really sees everything from the tsunami to the blackout, and eventually seeing the hydrogen explosion that I was telling myself, you know, probably other people will say, well, this is the end of nuclear. But to me, I was actually having a different kind of thinking, I said, well, this might be really challenging for the nuclear industry moving forward. But it could be quite a bit of interesting lessons learned. And indeed, True enough. I mean, if you look at all the reports, and studies made globally, there are quite a lot of interesting lessons learned from Fukushima incident, and actually gave me the kind of stimulation to actually publish a paper to talk about the state of Fukushima, the state of nuclear power in Southeast Asia, and why is it still relevant despite having a major accident, so that's how I actually got started with the nuclear industry, actually, from actually starting from a dark age, if you like. But I think now the development is getting more and more promising and more interesting. So yeah, I'm kind of proud of myself for being where I am today, and looking, falling in love with nuclear energy development. Seeing how nuclear energy might be able to contribute in our energy mix in decarbonizing our economy. So I think, yeah, I'm really happy to be a part of this nuclear world.

Olubunmi Olajide
When you mentioned 2010, I was going to bring up what your experience was after the Fukushima accident happened, but it's very interesting that it didn't turn you away completely from the industry. And I'm curious, post your PhD, what kind of roles have you got into working for your country as well as in the industry for nuclear?

Victor Nian
Right, so my PhD is actually in the Mechanical Engineering Department of National University of Singapore. And you know, in Singapore we didn’t have any nuclear research program back then. I mean, we don't really have a complete research program, even today. So back then to talk about a PhD dissertation in nuclear energy, or nuclear engineering is almost unthinkable. So I mean, I think that was my first attempt. So actually, I was almost, I believe, that was the first thesis on nuclear energy from the mechanical engineering department. But it was more on the life cycle analysis and looking at a number of things in nuclear energy, from fuel processing, mining, conversion, enrichment, technology generation, and even looking at new technology. So, and that becomes actually the main thrust of my work for the Energy Studies Institute, where I do it from the technology development angle, and see how advanced technology might contribute or influence policy so that the new policy, or regulation, or even market design may accommodate new technologies from a nuclear industry, so that they can be safer, better managed, and also also offering safeguards to countries like Singapore where we are not a nuclear weapon state. And I believe it's the same for the whole region, which my work really is spanning out from Singapore to ASEAN, that's the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is 10 nations in Southeast Asian region. So looking at how nuclear energy might benefit the region as a whole and you might have heard about the regional integration project. So the idea is to connect the whole region with a power grid so that we can actually treat electricity freely using a common market framework. That was the idea. So with nuclear energy, perhaps that would contribute collectively in the decarbonisation efforts. So yeah, that’s my work for the Institute.

Olubunmi Olajide
And I'm a bit curious, what is the energy mix looking like in Singapore? What is the current situation on ground? And what is the transition plan if there is one right now? And where does nuclear play a role in it? It is something that we'd get knowledge of as a pathway towards a clean energy system, which is something that needs a lot of work right now.

Victor Nian
It's a very good question. You know, in Singapore, I would say, in comparison with the region, in most parts of the world, our energy system is generally considered clean, not in terms of carbon emission, of course, we are 95, or 97%, dependent on natural gas for power generation. So we use combined cycle natural gas power generation technology, which is really state of the art. It's very clean, it doesn't really pollute the environment, but it's very carbon intensive, because natural gas is fossil fuel. And we depend on LNG and also import natural gas from our neighbor countries to power our economy. Singapore doesn't have enough resources. So we are 100% dependent on energy imports to satisfy all our energy needs. And if you look around a neighbor, to Indonesia, Malaysia, these countries are mostly dependent on fossil fuel as well. And they are dependent on coal, oil, and gas for industry and for power generation. So if you look at the perspective of decarbonisation, then of course, today, there is a big conversation about renewables and battery storage, and even hydropower from Laos and Cambodia, on the Mekong River. But of course, nuclear energy also plays a role, you know, in decarbonizing the baseload because nuclear technology is a base load. But a concern, I mean, going back to Singapore the concern is a very small country, or urban island state. If you look at the conventional regulation, the existing regulations on the large nuclear reactors, then the exclusion zone, safety radius, the entire country is within that safety radius, depending on where you put the plant. So in the event of an accident, then well, we don't know where to go. So that is a major concern in the country right now, in terms of nuclear safety. But of course, you know, a lot of people are going to nuclear energy is not that dangerous, and it's not going to, the plant is not going to blow up like an atomic bomb, you know, it's just that Fukushima is one of a kind. And it's because a lot of these unfortunate, you know, unfortunate things that have happened behind the scenes is just a problem with the policy, the problem, the regulation. So there's a lot of lessons we have learned, we can make nuclear technology safer. But today, I guess, there is a new option, which is small modular reactors, a new kind of technology that claims to have a smaller radius in terms of planning zone or emergency planning and what’s really an exclusion zone. So then, some people might think, you know, this is actually a good option maybe Singapore should consider. And I would agree that that, you know, indeed, is an interesting option to explore to consider. But there are many other things, you know, beyond nuclear, just nuclear safety, of course, we want to make sure that technology has to be safe, right, it's probably government managed, you know, to deploy it to satisfy our energy needs. But I think the more important question is whether the existing market framework, yet the energy market framework, is able to accommodate a nuclear power plant from an independent private investment. And whether the country's energy mix, in terms of energy security, or in terms of other national energy objectives are designed or rather have an urgent need for nuclear energy at this moment. So these are the key considerations, the government, I believe they're already deliberating whether nuclear energy should come into the single energy mix now or in, in some sometime in the future. So I mean, also, this is my work in deliberating, you know, when is the best time or the right time for nuclear energy to enter Singapore's energy mix? And how should it come into the mix? Right, I mean, this is in the context of an ASEAN grid, you know, working with our neighbors bilateral arrangement, in a regional cooperation, because you've got an accident in the region, can most probably more than one country will be affected? Because we are all situated so close together. And if you look at Southeast Asia, we are literally sitting next to one another, all the countries. So if there's a major accident, then, you know, then I mean, you can be really unhappy because while you've been enjoying the benefit of clean electricity, if an accident happens, other people are suffering from the consequences. So I guess this is, you know, the political sensitivity, the risks, trans boundary risks. All of these are the factors that countries, not just Singapore, I believe every country would, would factor into consideration in the plan for a nuclear power plant.

Olubunmi Olajide
So from what you said, it sounds like major drivers that it's pushing these decisions or deliberative, the thing about insufficient climate change and energy security. And those sound like the two main issues that are currently in focus right now. And in a recent article that you wrote, you mentioned that a pandemic could act as a trigger to accelerate transition towards clean energy. So is this something that plays into the conversation right now? Is it something that's influencing the decision? Or is this something that it's still following the same time as it was before?

Victor Nian
Right, I believe COVID-19 has really excited a lot of new development, right? I mean, if you go, if you go back two or three years ago, working from home is something that nobody would think about. I mean, there was even a thing that you wouldn't want to live where you work. But of course, some people say you know, your work in your – you live in the workplace. So now, it's becoming really a work-life integration. So nobody thinks about that. So, what it brings to the energy system, this is our lifestyle change, maybe the new norm, but what is what is the implications of our change in lifestyle, it means that the residential electricity demand is going to increase, whereas the peak demand, where we normally assume there will be no commercial buildings, right to use the office towers, the shopping malls, the hotels, they will be the peak demand. And they will actually beat the major demand that has now been shifted to residential demand, we traditionally think, or even today, I will still say that we are the base load. So you're actually increasing the base load demand of your country, or in a major city, basically, it's actually increasing. And when an increase in base load, then there is the opportunity to think about what you can do to decarbonize the baseload. Well, on the nuclear side, you have the options of having renewables, like PV, wind, and you have battery systems, or maybe thermal storage systems, so that you can kind of like achieving a bit of certainty with renewable supplies. But if you look at the context of Southeast Asia, even Singapore, there is very limited renewable energy potential. So when that comes, when renewable energy resources are limited, then you kind of think about what you can do. And also with COVID-19, people working from home, there's not much travel demand. A lot of people are thinking maybe I should just take public transport, there's no point in owning a car or a car just sitting in my garage all the time. And some people might start thinking about going to electric vehicles, because you have a conventional petrol car, you still have to do maintenance, lots of it. And then if you don't use it for an extended period of time, you still have to spend money on the car, just to make sure it's to run by the time you need it. Whereas an electric car, I believe, I mean, I'm not an expert on electric car technology. But I think that will give you much greater flexibility. And if you think about today's - and Singapore, we have that - it's called BlueSG, it's a sharing economy kind of concept. So you basically rent the car as you need. And you return the car to the charging port when you when you're done with it. So that actually in a way of increasing the demand, with a bit of certainty, as well, because you've, I mean, if you're using electric cars, most of time you're at home, that means you're most likely probably knowing the Singaporean culture, you will definitely charge your car whenever you have the opportunity to. So then the thinking is, what if you could actually see demand is going to rise? And we know that there's so much we can do with renewables, then what is the next? We think about hydrogen, but hydrogen has to come from somewhere, right? Nuclear becomes the only natural option. But then, of course, then we can go all the way back to all the arguments about safety risks, politics, you know, social sensitivity, right? So this is, but I think, in general, COVID-19 would, in a way, change people's mind towards many things, international travel, how they work, right? How they see people in their social interactions, how they see clean energy systems being more important in their life. Because another thing that I think would really trigger people's mind is during COVID-19, during the lockdown that one and a half months or so, if I open a window, I look outside, it's clear blue sky every morning, every day. It's really beautiful. And you see flower blossoms, you see a regular rainfall, there's no urban heat island effect. And you start wondering, well, if you can get rid of fossil fuels, that will be wonderful, right, we'll have this clean blue sky everyday. And we don't have to worry about this, you know, dirty air and carbon dioxide and global warming. And we can really enjoy, you know, fresh air. So I think people will start to change their minds, which is what future energy and energy choice would be. So yeah, that was my inspiration for that piece.

Olubunmi Olajide
And let's jump right into some of these debates or discussions as you put it and let's start with the policy piece. Where is the country of Singapore right now? And what are the drivers that are going to move it to the next stage in the consideration?

Victor Nian
I think the national objective of Singapore is, we are a tropical country and we are mostly dependent on air conditioning, almost 24/7, whether you're working from home, you're working the office, you go shopping or you go to a hotel. Even some gardens are air conditioned. So I think the first national project objectives as you would read in our biannual update report, energy efficiency will definitely always be represented as first priority for the country. So we always want to make sure that we get the best use of the energy that we have, knowing that we are importing 100% of it. So this is always the priority. The second priority is to diversify our fuel mix with – that means renewable, bioenergy, in a way, energy storage, and now we're increasingly thinking about the role of hydrogen, actually developing a research program on hydrogen economy for Singapore to look at various other policy, infrastructure and technology gaps the country needs to see and the army, the R&D needs in technology so that we would have a sustainable hydrogen economy for the country. And then, of course one of the things, thinking of my own interest, is to see the role of nuclear energy in that, in the backdrop of cleaning up our electricity systems, our energy systems are playing a role in the hydrogen economy. But as far as policy, the existing policy or the official announcement is concerned, Singapore is not putting nuclear energy into the current planet. But that's not saying that we're going against it, I believe Singapore is still very much open to the option of nuclear energy. And if I can put myself in the shoes of the government, and if I could think for them, I would say nuclear energy is relevant. Right? It's relevant in addressing our energy import, it’s relevant in addressing our national climate change, and our INDC target. But nuclear energy must come at a time where our citizens are willing to accept it, where the region is willing to accept it. Accept it, meaning accepting the risk and the benefits. And that is the right time for Singapore to adopt. And also one of the critical conditions of technology has to be proven to be safe to deploy in our urban context. I mean, we are already an urban city, right. So it has to be safe for urban deployment. I mean, if I were to, you know, stretch that screen a little bit, what about SMRs? That is the option that industry promoted or advocated that it should be suitable for urban deployment. Okay, so I think I would stop there.

Olubunmi Olajide
And you mentioned it a bit. But let's go into another angle is compensation, which is the social acceptance, as you mentioned before, so where does the public stand in terms of this conversation? Because nuclear tends to generate a lot of interesting conversations about the general public. So where does the public of Singapore have this conversation?

Victor Nian
Yes, you raise a very interesting question. And actually, I am one of those shameless persons who have done something really, you know, out of the Asian context. So there was this one occasion, I was having coffee downtown, I can't remember where, one of those shopping districts. So I was having coffee and I overheard some conversations about radiation. I don't know what they're talking about, actually. So you know, I was the guy working on nuclear energy. So I just kind of I bring a coffee, and you're just starting to get started with that. And these guys were wondering, what is this guy trying to do? So I just, you know, throw the conversation, throw in questions. What do you guys think about radiation and nuclear power plants? Well, then, you know, the usual things will come, right? Radiation, you don't even feel that you can even see it. Right? It can be really dangerous. So I said, Well, if there's a nuclear explosion, and you stand right in front of Chernobyl, yes, nobody survives that. And you probably the same would happen if you stand in front of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the hydrogen explosion doesn't carry with it, the rest will surely make you suffer. But then I said, well look at it this way. People have been living in nuclear power, near nuclear power plants for years. If you go to the States, or if you go to some other countries, you actually see farms, near nuclear power plants, right. And then if I give you a list of things, where you will have exposure to radiation, for example, taking the transcontinental flight, right, having a banana, and I know it's talking to well, we're all having coffee, right? There is radiation, serious radiation in the coffee that we're drinking, so we're actually getting a steady dose of radiation every day. And if you're a coffeeholic, you get more doses and everything than other people. And every time you go for dental X-ray or you go for chest X-ray, well, actually then you're almost like living in the nuclear core of a nuclear power plant almost like that. So I said, well, in normal cases, you mean the nuclear power plant is nowhere close to danger like that. And then he was saying, well, there's this radiation, you don't realize it? Well, you know, you're already dealing with radiation and we are known, you know, aid and radiation. MRI, these are all radiations you go to the airport security that is one little radiation for you. And then they were saying, well, they never thought about that because nuclear radiation is so dangerous. So I said, well imagine that, you know, there's no Fukushima, the media didn't say all that, and then a nuclear engineer came to you and told you what are the safety measures? So that's what actually did a little bit about, you know, the safety measures of nuclear power plants, what is this defense in depth concept all about? And in comparison with the background radiation? And people start thinking you said, well, actually, nobody had told him that, you know, there was a you know, we didn't know that. So I will say, well, it's not wrong. It's not your fault. You know, there's just a lot of work that we need to do in terms of public education, public outreach, because the right messages are not really getting spread by the media, which is really unfortunate these days. I don't blame the media, because readership is always important. If you don't stare, you capture that and you report or what is happening in there, people are interested. But what I was really hoping is that if the media can take one step ahead one step further, in telling people what happened after that, what really triggered it and what really caused Fukushima to happen. And, you know, just wanting to actually mention to the people that say, well, if you look at Fukushima one more time, first was the major earthquake, and building, a containment building designed to for to protect the nuclear reactor wasn't designed to withstand an earthquake magnitude like that the earthquake magnitude of nine, but it's not designed for that. And the earthquake magnitude was much higher than that. And not knowing that you had a tsunami, which overpower the seawall defense, and come crashing down to the reactor buildings. No matter what happens. None of the buildings crashed. All the buildings stand very uneven over the rest of Fukushima, everything's gone. But the reactor building standing intact was unfortunate, because no design the whole concept. You know, people in Japan decided that that's safe enough for them. So they didn't really want to take recommendations from agents, the IAEA. So a lot of unfortunate decisions were made. So that caused Fukushima. So people are saying, oh, actually, we didn't think about that. I said, well, if you think about that, now, if I were you, if I were the people in Fukushima, if there's an earthquake and a tsunami, the first place I would run into the nuclear reactor building. Right, that's the safest place to be when it's a tsunami hit. Yeah, so you know, I will say public acceptance is something that's really subjective. Different countries have very different opinions towards nuclear or against nuclear. And so happened in Southeast Asia, people see that standard, because we are very close to Fukushima. We are very close to Japan. And if you go to the old days, once the media broadcast is gone, now it's on Wikipedia page, even at 10 years old if you Google Fukushima, that probably accident page will show up first, then the other things. So yeah, social acceptance remains an issue not to Singapore, actually, most countries in Asia.

Olubunmi Olajide
That's actually very interesting, because it's something that it reflects differently in different regions of the world, especially when Singapore is so close to the incident initially, and it's just very interesting how you see these, these perceptions play out, especially in the general public. So now, going into another angle, this is something we've talked a bit about, it's about the technology. You mentioned, you've talked a lot about small modular reactors, SMRs. And this, this seems like the logical fit if Singapore is to go into nuclear energy, and especially for the countries in the region, as you mentioned, sentence, these countries have a lot of - they're very close together, it's something that has to be supported generally. So how does this technology play in with the geopolitical situation that it's that Singapore is in? And what would it take to get a buy in from all the stakeholders involved

Victor Nian
Well, the nuclear SMRs or any other technologies, they are considered nuclear, right? So is without any treatment or without bias, I think they will be treated equally in terms of safety risks. So if you talk to a typical policymaker or people who work in the field of nuclear energy, they will say, well, in a worst case scenario, the impact is probably the same. So that in a way that it doesn't really eliminate political sensitivity in that aspect, but it does add an additional layer of assurance because people generally agree that SMRs, with these proposed designs, are considered safer than the large reactor is probably much safer than the large ones. And if indeed the nuclear, the SMRs can reduce the footprint to what it promised by the industry, rather than looking at a huge cooling tower, huge reactor containment, then maybe that would somehow change the public perception of the public perception starts to turn, then you will see, you might see a gradual change in the policy. Because after all, I think to an, to a knowledgeable person or to a, you know, reasonably skilled person in the art, he or she would understand nuclear energy is safe. It is the general public that are not fully convinced that SMR are safe. So that actually adds to the sensitivity. And, you know, in a way, geopolitics and the question with SMR, I think, today is, of course, safety politics. That's one side, I think another issue with SMRs is the clarity on technical performance, safety, and also on the economics. The large nuclear reactors, the conventional ones, we understand there's an economy of scale, right? So if you build larger ones, then the cost per unit kilowatt reduces. So that's an example in South Korea. But then, of course, you know, in the US in France, a lot of things happen. You mean, there's cost escalations that people say it doesn't reverse learning by doing? Who reviewed the material for that point, which does, that does one incident, but if you look at a South Korean case, they can deliver their project on time, really big. I mean, there's 1400 megawatt, it's a huge reactor. And then they can manage your costs, and deliver projects on time in the UAE, and their own domestic nuclear reactors. So all the risks are not understood: financing risks, economics, when it comes to SMRs, then the question is always, where is the sweet spot in terms of the best optimal entry point, right. So I believe the ASEAN countries would not really want to be the first to, probably want to see technology being demonstrated somewhere else, be proven to be working economically, at least, you can convince us on, you know, at least on calculations, or some economic models that SMRs can be economically deployed. But then we can probably make a decision. I mean, after all, it is a huge capital commitment, compared to other energy resources. I'm not comparing the latter, I mean, you compare the coal fired power plant, compared to a natural gas power plant, building an SMR is still quite a bit of financial commitment. And whether SMRs can fit in very well in the electricity market structure of different countries. And whether you want to give preferential preference to nuclear energy, these are all questions to be answered. So whenever I have, you know, cost curves reductions, depending on the number of units deployed, I mean, to me, my question is, at what unit is the point that ASEAN should deploy their first ones, right? So we are not going to be the global market, the SMR has to have a global market, you deploy hundreds, thousands of units, and we are part of that hundreds of thousands of units. So meaning we are, you know, fractional share of the market. So when do we go in, right? What is the right price and price point that we go in, and not forget that in SMRs you can buy a reactor core from a vendor and from a factory, you stand into a lot of seismic work constructions, building a containment that you have to do on site with your own industry. So then you turn back and look inside and say, well, can my industry deliver a solid containment? The necessary nuclear grade material? And also the nuclear the entire nuclear island? Other than a core? If the answer is yes, my industry can support that, then yeah, you can probably go for it. Because the rest is easier steam turbines, commercial items that your local industry should be able to do with it. SMRs, 50 megawatt, 100 megawatt turbines are well understood by the industry, or the steam turbine companies can do what the local companies are able to support in terms of maintenance, or maybe even some of the manufacturing. But yeah, but then the question is, you know, what is the entry point? And how safe are these, and these, I'm only having a one unit of SMRs, I will probably want to really enjoy the economies of multiples. But if I'm planning multiples of units in my country, then the question is, where my demands are? Where should I deploy this? In Singapore, when it's so big, right? When you only have so much demand, whereas Indonesia, the demand may be scattered across different islands, it actually makes a case for SMRs. Right? Smaller grid size, you know, you deploy a couple of modules here on one island, couple modules on the other island, overall, you still have multiples. So you see that the considerations of SMRs actually is what I would say at the moment is an additional layer of consideration or complexity in terms of economic planning, other than the political sensitivity, but I still think that compared to a large reactor, this is more feasible in the ASEAMN context at the moment.

Olubunmi Olajide
And I just want to go back quickly to the two drivers that identified in the beginning of conversation that was climate change. Energy Security, you mentioned that about 100% of the energy that Singapore uses is actually important. And this is, this is such a very concerning thing, especially when we see it in the context of the pandemic, we've seen how energy systems can be affected, and just global trade in general can be affected by just one single event. And you can never really tell how this has been to turn up in the future as well. So it's something that forces you to think a lot more intensely about what your energy system entails. So I'm just curious, from your perspective, do you think there are more drivers into this apart from climate change, and apart from the other one that I mentioned before, that are playing key roles into how Singapore is thinking about the energy system going forward.

Victor Nian
I believe definitely will be the COVID-19 and the post COVID-19 situations, the disruptions to global supply chain, and the possibility that countries might want to work together less than before. These will definitely trigger new thinking, new deliberations in the long term energy planning. Some economists or some people might think this is just a short term shock, maybe a very serious shock. But it goes back to normal anyway. Some people might think, well, this is the turning point where people would change to something totally different. How is nuclear going to be featured in that picture? Well, I guess, in my opinion, I think nuclear energy should now be considered more than ever. But of course, I'm not saying that we must go in and build a nuclear power plant today. No, I'm not saying that. I'm not saying that you should do the nuclear power plant in five years time, or 10 years time. I'm not even, you know, a predetermined time frame for this. But what I'm saying is nuclear energy, the relevance of nuclear energy really has to be considered more than ever. In terms, I mean, to achieve clean energy transition, it's not just about climate change. It's not just about energy. You know, energy import is also about building resilience in the energy system. You have if you have a supply disruption, in terms of natural gas supply, maybe 95%, 97% dependent for whatever reason, there is a disruption in gas supply, then we will face serious problems. Solar PV is not going to save us that much. I mean, it will help you deviate some of these energy issues during daytime. And the question is what happens during the nighttime, our industry runs 24-seven, and they cannot stop and cannot afford to stop when there's no electricity or there's no food? So how to make our energy system more resilient? Can nuclear energy play a role in resilience in building resilience to our energy system? If the answer is yes, then as then I really think that this has to be put on the table, the long term planning table right now. And also think about educating the public. This is not so much about how should I say the government, I have a very good understanding on the safety and economic and political implications of energy. But these ideas, these right knowledge also need to be educated or communicated to the public, so that the people understand and share the concern of the government. So that the people will be more supportive of the decision of having nuclear energy in the future. Genuine public attitude is not one that you can do if you want to build a nuclear power. And you probably can do that with today's you know, decision, if you go for contracting, you can have it in 10 years time is up to up and running. But to change the attitude of the public in 10 years, is probably going to be a much more complicated project than you know, putting off a nuclear construction project. So that was to say, you know, if resilience has to be the key consideration, moving forward into opposing COVID-19, which I very much believe so. Then this idea of resilience needs to be instilled into the minds of the public, so that they will be able to appreciate what nuclear energy can bring them while acknowledging the risks. So yeah, so I think yeah, post COVID-19. Yes, these people will start thinking about that.

Olubunmi Olajide
That's actually a very, very interesting insight. And I'm very curious to see how this actually plays out in reality. But on that note, looking into the future, kind of as a closing question that I always like to ask guests on the show, what are you looking forward to in terms of nuclear, not just being isolated to Singapore, maybe in the greater region of Southeast Asia or just in a global context? What are you looking forward to, to the development of nuclear space and what excites?

Victor Nian
Oh, you know, I'm really, actually this is my curiosity of where nuclear energy would be actually that would be my question, where your energy would be five to 10 years from now. 10 to 20 years from now, or maybe five decades from now. You know, you might, if it was my wish, I would really hope to see that nuclear energy would bring will be really safe, right in the future will be safe, reliable, and offer safeguards assurance to countries that are not the nuclear weapon state, while providing clean energy and affordable energy to communities that are not so developed. I'm hoping that what you can achieve will play a role in decarbonizing the developed countries energy sectors, as well as developing energy systems, especially for Africa, for South America, Southeast Asia. I think more than ever, the developing countries or even less developed countries will need key energy systems. And with SMRs, having the ability to do water consolidation, to offer alternative fuels, high temperature heat, for sanitation, I think they made it - I mean, these technologies may even offer clean water to countries that don't have – to countries that water is a luxury, for example, Africa, South America, or even parts of Southeast Asia, South Asia. So if you can, if you can offer them a word, it's still resilience, right? Building resilience in society, then I think nuclear energy really should have a main role in our energy systems. But beyond energy, in water, into hydrogen into medical applications, I think there is a great greater role for nuclear in general. And I believe the SMRs will certainly play a role in cleaning up our energy systems and making our society more resilient. But of course, I also hope that the nuclear industry will work together, rather than just pure competition, competing on cost. Don't do that, you know, competing on technology, competing on safety, competing over the past few human societies. I think that would really be my wish.

Olubunmi Olajide
That will be the next thing. Thank you so much for joining us on the Titans of Nuclear podcast. It's been a very great conversation, and I really appreciate you making the time for this.

Victor Nian
Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.

Olubunmi Olajide
Thank you.

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