Nuclear still an option for PH
The Philippines is studying including nuclear energy in the primary energy mix by 2040 but a nuclear policy that will address safety and acceptability concerns has yet to be put in place.
Studies are ongoing at the Department of Energy to include nuclear energy for power generation in the 3.1 percent projected share of new technologies in energy mix.
Energy Undersecretary Jess Posadas said the Philippines is open to the use of nuclear energy to power its economic development from the P8.9 trillion worth of investments in infrastructure in the next five years.
Posada said the Philippines is presently in the process of developing and formulating its national position on nuclear energy but admits that this will not be easy.
“If the infrastructure projects will be built, the Philippines will need huge amounts of energy,” he said, adding that nuclear power has the potential of meeting such huge energy demand.
Posadas said one gram of uranium is equivalent to 1.8 million cubic meters of oil and three million grams of coal.
“Nuclear energy would last longer than other fuels,” said Posadas.
He stressed that the country has always viewed nuclear energy as a long-term option for power generation that will provide supply security, stability and reliability.
“Should this be the path that the country will take, nuclear further diversifies our existing generation mix comprised of coal, natural gas, geothermal, hydropower, oil, wind, biomass and solar,” the official said.
He said that owing to its baseload characteristics allowing it to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, nuclear can support the thrust of the Philippine government which is the realization of the Philippine Development Plan’s drive for industrialization and urbanization.
“It is central for a country towards the path of development to have the available and required capacity to meet the nation’s increasing demand requirements,” Posadas said.
He said nuclear’s pivotal role to augment supply will also aid in accomplishing Ambisyon Natin 2040, a long-term vision that highlights the aspirations, values and principles of the Filipino people for themselves and for the country.
Posadas also said the Philippines is “privileged to have a President that personifies strong political will which is essentially one decisive factor if a country is to embark on a nuclear power program.
The DOE official said discussions on nuclear energy as well as radioactive sources tend to attract issues on security.
“We are cognizant of this and must admit that this issue cannot be discounted as people and the environment must always be protected. As you would note, security and physical protection is just one of the 19 infrastructure issues identified by the IAEA for countries pursuing nuclear power development. When we talk about radioactive sources, there is also emphasis on security. There must be a security culture practiced and a system well in place,” he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has set 19 issues that need to be addressed to assist countries considering nuclear energy for power generation.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has said that government will come out with a final recommendation on way forward for the mothballed 620 megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
The Bataan Nuclear facility has not operated for the past 30 years amid safety concerns.
Cusi earlier said that in the event that repowering the Bataan nuclear power plant is not feasible, the Philippines can also look into using modular or smaller sized nuclear facilities.
“We can be cautious. We can move with caution so we can start with modular. We have to listen to the experts,” he said.
President Duterte has given his go signal to Cusi to study nuclear as an option for the country’s long-term power requirements.
Cusi has since then issued department order DO2016-10-0013 creating the nuclear energy program implementing organization or NEPIO in the DOE.
The NEPIO will produce produce a comprehensive study and prepare a national infrastructure for the first nuclear power plant.