Task force reviewing possible nuclear energy use

2023 May 20

POWER SOURCE. The Battery Energy Storage System facility of San Miguel Corporation Global Power Holdings in Limay, Bataan was inaugurated by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on March 31, 2023. The facility utilizes advanced lithium-ion battery technologies that capture electricity produced by renewable and non-renewable sources for discharge at a later time.

MANILA – An interagency task force is currently reviewing the viability of nuclear power as an alternative source to meet the country’s energy demand, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Saturday.

In a media forum in Quezon City, DOE Undersecretary Alessandro Sales said the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) is conducting a careful study on the plan to tap nuclear energy because it entails risks.

“We are studying it and hopefully, babalik tayo doon sa situation na charting our course depende sa situation (we will go back to the situation that we are charting our course, depending on the situation) which potentially becomes part of the energy needs of the Philippines in the future,” he added.

While he acknowledged that nuclear energy is “one of the technologies that can react fast to the variability of renewable energy,” Sales noted that the country has yet to formulate a regulatory framework on its utilization as an alternative power source.

Sales said the Philippines remains open to the idea of using nuclear energy to address power woes.

“Of course, mayroong ginagawang maraming pag-aaral tungkol dito… Open ang nuclear option para sa atin (several studies are being conducted… We are open to a nuclear option). Meaning to say, there are many kinds of nuclear technologies [available],” he added.

The NEP-IAC Steering Committee is set to hold a meeting next week.

Early this month, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said the government is eyeing the use of a “cutting-edge” micro-nuclear fuel technology to meet the growing needs of Filipinos and avert a possible power crisis in the country.

This developed following Marcos’ meeting with US-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), a vertical integrator of nuclear technologies and services, in Washington, D.C. on May 2.

During the meeting with Marcos, USNC expressed its intent to bring clean and reliable nuclear energy to the Philippines and make the country its nuclear hub in Southeast Asia.

USNC officials explained that the micro modular reactor energy system is a fourth-generation nuclear energy system that seeks to deliver safe, clean and cost-effective electricity to users.

Apart from the USNC, Oregon-based NuScale Power Corporation, which is known for developing a safe modular and scalable small nuclear power system, also expressed interest to invest USD6.5 billion to USD7.5 billion (PHP415.5 billion) to provide 462 megawatts to the Philippines by the early 2030s.

Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos (PNA)