MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines has taken a big step to harness nuclear energy, its energy minister said on Wednesday after President Rodrigo Duterte created an inter-agency panel to study the adoption of a national nuclear energy policy.
FILE PHOTO: The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is seen during a tour of the BNPP complex in Morong City, Bataan Province, North Manila, The Philippines, May 11, 2018. REUTERS / Romeo Ranoco
As energy demand increases in what has been among the world’s fastest growing economies for years, Secretary of Energy Alfonso Cusi has passionately advocated the use of nuclear energy, despite public concern for security in a country frequently affected by natural disasters.
Nuclear power is seen as a potential response to the Philippines’ twin precarious supply problems and higher electricity costs in Southeast Asia, but Duterte has yet to express full support for Cusi’s proposal.
However, in an executive order issued on July 24 and released on Wednesday, Duterte created a committee to carry out the study, signaling the openness to revive the country’s nuclear energy ambitions.
The Philippines spent $ 2.3 billion to build what was once the only nuclear power facility in Southeast Asia, but was never used by reut.rs/39NyZcR.
The 621-megawatt Bataan nuclear power plant was completed in 1984, but was baffled after the devastating Chernobyl disaster and the collapse of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, who ordered its construction.
Cusi welcomed Duterte’s move as “an important step towards the realization of a Philippine nuclear power program” that “would help protect our consumers from traditional volatilities in energy prices.”
The committee will evaluate the feasibility of adding nuclear power to the Philippine power mix, taking into account the economic, safety and environmental implications.
If it continues, it could build new facilities or rehabilitate the Bataan plant. Previous attempts to pursue nuclear power have failed due to security concerns and his association with Marcos and his brutal era of martial law.
However, despite not having a nuclear policy, the Philippines has been in talks with the Russian state atomic company Rosatom about a feasibility study to deploy small nuclear plants in remote areas.