Duterte signs EO for the use of nuclear energy as an alternative energy source

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FILE PHOTO: The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is seen during a media tour around the BNPP complex in Morong town, Bataan province, the Philippines September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order that would pave the way for the government to harness nuclear power as an alternative energy source.

Executive Order (EO) No. 164, signed on February 28 but made available to the media on Thursday, set out the country’s national position for a nuclear energy program, which takes into account economic, political, social and environmental.

The OE states that for the country to achieve its growth targets, it must ensure that it has a reliable, secure, sustainable, quality and affordable supply of electricity, including sufficient reserve to ensure that there will be no disturbances in the power supply.

“To this end, and given the experience of developed and growing economies, nuclear power must be harnessed as a viable alternative baseload energy source as well as alternative energy resources, to meet the projected decline in coal-fired power plants which are in increasing demand. environmental opposition,” the document read.

“The State envisions nuclear energy as a viable component to bridge the gap between growing energy demand and supply, taking into account the lessons of the past, national, social and economic development paths, as well as the international legal and regulatory frameworks and best practices,” he added.

The Department of Energy (DOE) previously completed a feasibility study on the viability of introducing nuclear power into the nation’s energy mix.

According to the OE, a nuclear power program has potential driving effects on economic growth. He noted that nuclear energy can also contribute to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and has a high potential for decarbonizing the electricity sector.

Under the ordinance, the state must guarantee the “peaceful use” of nuclear technology.

The EO also directs the Inter-Agency Nuclear Power Program Committee (NEP-IAC) formed in 2020 to conduct further studies as necessary and make recommendations on the use and viability of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. mothballing and the creation of other facilities for the use of nuclear energy.

It was signed just three months before Duterte ended his single six-year term after earlier efforts failed due to security concerns.

Funding requirements for implementing the Order will be met from available appropriations from DOE and NEP-IAC member agencies, and other appropriate funding sources as may be identified by the Department of Budget and Management. .

“Funding for subsequent years will be incorporated into the annual budget proposals of NEP-IAC member agencies, subject to the usual budget process,” the EO said.

Major milestone, viable alternative

Duterte’s decision will also allow authorities to prepare for the phasing out of coal-fired power plants.

The order, signed on February 28 and made public on Thursday, could be a milestone for the country’s energy sector which suffers from regular power cuts and high prices but will worry opponents of the move.

“The national government undertakes to introduce nuclear energy into the state’s energy mix for electricity generation,” the order reads.

Despite public concerns over safety, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has passionately argued for nuclear power, which he says could be the answer to the twin problems of tight supply and price high electricity.

Given the experience of developed economies, Duterte said nuclear power would be harnessed as a viable alternative baseload energy source as the Philippines seeks to phase out its coal-fired power plants in line with its commitment to help limit the climate change.

Previous attempts to pursue nuclear power in the Philippines have failed due to security concerns, but reviving the BNPP, built under the rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is central to the new plan.

Built in 1976 in response to an energy crisis and completed in 1984, the government mothballed it two years later after Marcos’ ousting and the deadly Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Since 2009, the BNPP has been open as a tourist attraction for a fee, which helps defray the costs of maintaining it.

The late dictator’s son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who is currently the frontrunner in the May presidential election, has said he plans to ‘revisit’ the BNPP project, according to local media – with reports from Reuters

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