The government on Tuesday solidified its plan to tap nuclear energy after signing an agreement with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corp. to build land-based or floating nuclear power plants.
“That’s [floating nuclear power plants] a part of the study that is covered by the memo of the cooperation,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Cusi said he signed a cooperation agreement with Rosatom executives for nuclear power development.
“The parties intend to cooperate in the development of the national nuclear infrastructure in the Republic of the Philippines to support further implementation of the peaceful nuclear program in the country,” Rosatom said.
“Partners will also explore the possibilities for the construction of land based or floating nuclear power plants equipped with small modular reactors in the Republic of the Philippines. In addition, the technical conditions of the Bataan NPP will be assessed to determine the possibility of its reopening and eventual commissioning,” Rosatom said.
Cusi said the MOU “firms up everything we have been doing.”
Cusi earlier said international experts from Russia and Slovenia were studying options for the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan nuclear power plant.
“But there is still no recommendations although their observations is the same as our that the structure is good,” he said.
Cusi said the government was mulling over several options for the use of the Bataan facility as a bomb shelter, hotel, library or data center, if repowering was no longer feasible.
The energy chief said the government needed to find a “closure” on the Bataan nuclear power plant, which had not operated for over 30 years.
“If we will no longer use it, what are the possible options? We can use it as a bomb shelter, may be a library, hotel, data center,” Cusi said.
The nuclear facility, though completed already, was mothballed in 1986 on safety concerns as the power plant reportedly sits on a fault line.
“I am not saying that Bataan is out definitely, but we have to put a closure to Bataan. As the authority, we have to put a closure to it,” Cusi said.
“Are we going to proceed and make it a nuclear power plant? If we are not going to operate it as a nuclear power plant, then what are we going to do with the structure? What are we going to do with the property?” he said.
Cusi said the Philippines would have achieved greater economic strides if the power plant was able to run in the mid-1980s.
“If the plant was running at that time, our energy landscape and probably our economic landscape will not be like this. We will be better than our neighbors because electricity is a very important factor in a country’s development,” he said.
Cusi said some sectors were in fact supportive of nuclear energy as long as it did not involve the Bataan nuclear facility.
“We understand a lot of people are already favoring nuclear. So, at DOE as a policy body, we are looking at what we should be our direction,” the energy chief said.
He said the Philippines might start with modular nuclear facilities, but the development needed to start with the “acceptance of the community.”