This is the concluding piece on looking at the benefits of running the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant especially now that the administration’s Department of Energy has expressed some interest in nuclear power and in particular, the BNPP.
As indicated last week, the bene™fits indicated here are from former Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojuangco who is recognized as among the, if not the foremost Filipino advocate of nuclear energy and the operationalization of the BNPP. For the longest time, people (including this writer) had very negative impressions of BNPP despite the absence of real effort to understand it minus political rhetoric. This piece is an attempt to provide some balance in the discourse.
To recap last week’s article, the first five benefits according to Cojuangco are the following:
1 Operating the BNPP will allow us to save foreign exchange.
2 BNPP will result in cheap electricity.
3 It is strategically more secure because the physical volume of needed fuel every 18 months is quite small.
4 Nuclear energy is clean, and thus, good for the environment.
5 Nuclear energy saves lives.
6 Cheap electricity is a powerful anti-poverty agent. Our per capita KWh consumption is one of the lowest in the region. This defines us as poor. Electricity is an enabler if people are able to afford and use it for their benefit, including livelihood. If it is too expensive, electricity cannot be maximized by people. Let us make electricity cheap so people can benefit more, and make lives better from it. Since the BNPP will make electricity significantly cheaper for those who will use it, expenses will be less, and there will be more electricity that can be used to enable them to earn.
Cheap electricity will make our country competitive because at present, electricity cost here is among the highest in the world. It is a disincentive to possible investors resulting in opportunity loss for us.
7 Nuclear will address shortage of power supply. We are perennially under threat of power supply shortages. We see it manifested in Meralco’s announcements of variously colored alerts. This is an abnormal situation unheard of in other countries. The shortage results in brownouts that have become “normal” in some parts of the country. Needless to say, brownouts wreak havoc on businesses, our primary source of jobs. Also, they cause major inconvenience in our personal lives. Such need not happen if we have given nuclear energy a chance to be used by our people.
Moreover, the National Economic and Development Authority says that the country will need to double our power supply capacity by 2030. To further complicate the problem, our current fleet is already old and unreliable. Soon they will need replacing. If we are not ready, power supply shortage will be a much bigger problem.
Using nuclear energy, as already shown by the experience of other countries, will result in abundant capacity with adequate reserves to roll us through crisis and emergencies.
8 Using nuclear power and operating the BNPP will enable us to get away from the negative effects of dirty and harmful energy. Every fossil fuel plant we build today ties us to that fossil fuel plant for at least 40 years more with its attendant emissions, pollution, and expense. This delays our move away from expensive and pollution-causing fossil fuels.
As already said, nuclear energy is clean energy that emits nothing. It cannot harm people and our environment. If we are concerned with global warming and climate change, and we want to lower Carbon Dioxide (CO2), then we cannot be against nuclear power. It is the way to go because there simply is no other low/no carbon technology like nuclear.
9 BNPP is a valuable and high-quality asset. It is unwise and wasteful to keep it idle when it can benefit our country, our people. The BNPP was built by Westinghouse, a most reliable company that will not attach its name to something that is of questionable quality. Those concerned about the BNPP’s age need not worry because it has three identical sisters abroad that remain operational and award winners for uptime and efficiency. It is no longer credible to just say that BNPP is a lousy and defective plant. The evidence to the contrary is just overwhelming.
Those concerned about what happened in Fukushima should know that the BNPP is extremely safe. It is at twice the seismic design basis compared with Fukushima. Moreover, BNPP’s location is three times the elevation of Fukushima. This means that a tsunami, unlike what happened in Japan, would not even wet the BNPP. Fukushima survived the intensity 9 earthquake well and it was built with only a 0.18G seismic design basis. BNPP’s 0.40 design basis which is more than twice as strong will easily survive a 9 quake and most probably, a much stronger one.
These benefits that the BNPP could bring our people should at the very least make us study the option sans politics.
According to former Rep. Cojuangco, he looks at the BNPP with hope that this administration will judge it on its merits and potential, rather than on some obscure ideology and false sense of pride. “It is the only way through the nuclear door that is implementable within the single term of any president. It holds the promise of a shift in paradigm for our economy and people, where ‘kuryente’ abundance, utility and affordability is the norm. Let us build an ever larger nuclear fleet for our energy future to help end poverty, enable our prosperity, and enhance the quality of our health and life. It all starts with BNPP,” Cojuangco ended.
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