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U.S. approves nuclear exports to Vietnam's $50 billion market

Posting in Energy

What are we fighting for? In 1971, Lieutenant Kerry testified to the Senate, opposing the Vietnam War in which he served. Four decades later he has  opened the way for U.S. nuclear exports to the country.

The United States may be deliberating about nuclear power at home, but it's waking up to the significant export market including emerging economies where nuclear could help usher in a low carbon, sustainable future.

Case in point: The U.S. has approved nuclear exports to Vietnam, where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the nuclear power market could hit $50 billion by 2030.

World Nuclear News reports that Kerry signed an agreement with Vietnam's foreign minister Pham Binh Minh that "will allow the transfer of nuclear-energy related materials and components between the two countries." The two met at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit in Brunei last week.

Vietnam is planning or proposing 10 large nuclear plants by 2030, according to the World Nuclear Association.

"Vietnam has the second-largest market, after China, for nuclear power in East Asia, and our companies can now compete," said Kerry. "What is a $10 billion market today is expected to grow into a $50 billion market by the year 2030."

The U.S. companies will find, however, that other exporters have a head start. Russia's Rosatom will start building Vietnam's first two reactors as soon as next year and has committed to some of the others. So has Japan, through a consortium of Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Hitachi, according to WNA.

Vietnam is just one of many countries counting on nuclear power to help secure a sustainable energy future. China and Russia are expanding nuclear energy at home and stepping up export efforts around the world, including the Middle East, Bangladesh and others. China appears to be rescuing a planned nuclear plant in Britain by taking as much as a 49-percent take in the initiative, run by France's EDF.

In Kerry's home country, after a 30-year period of approving no new reactors, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year approved two.

Photo of John Kerry at Senate Fulbright Hearing is from Notafish via Wikimedia

Nuclear newbies:

For all sorts of alternative nuclear stories including thorium, molten salt, pebble beds, fast reactors, modular reactors, fusion and more, click here.

— By on October 13, 2013, 9:29 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure