Nuclear energy is now part of the PH energy source

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President Duterte signed an executive order to establish a nuclear power program for the Philippines to meet the country’s growing electricity needs.

The order, signed on February 28, could be a milestone for the country’s energy sector, which suffers from regular power cuts, but it will likely meet strong opposition from those with security concerns.

In Executive Order No. 164 of February 28, Duterte cited the experience of highly developed countries which shows that nuclear energy can be a “reliable, competitive and environmentally friendly source of energy”.

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

The OE outlined the national government’s position for a nuclear energy program, taking into account economic, political, social and environmental objectives.

“For the country to achieve its goals of sustained growth, it must ensure that it has a reliable, secure, sustainable, quality and affordable supply of electricity, including sufficient reserve to ensure that it does not there will be no disruptions to the power supply,” the order reads. .

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

“Life cycle emissions from nuclear power strings are comparable to the best renewable energy strings and several orders of magnitude lower than fossil fuel strings,” he said.

“The State envisions nuclear energy as a viable component to bridge the gap between growing energy demand and supply, taking into account lessons learned from the past, national, social and economic development paths, as well as 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 EO, a nuclear energy program has the potential to stimulate 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 order, 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.

The $2.3 billion BNPP located in Morong, Bataan was completed in the 1980s under the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, but was mothballed in 1986 for security reasons. It had a rated capacity of 623 megawatts.

Several groups, including Greenpeace, the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), and the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED), have already expressed dismay at EO.

Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the ICSC, said nuclear power is incompatible with DOE’s goals to modernize the electricity sector.

“Our employees deserve consistency. The DOE’s moratorium on greenfield coal in October 2020 was widely applauded as the right move in the face of prolonged outages produced by a grid rendered unstable by excess baseload capacity…Yet nuclear is even more inflexible than coal . It cannot meet the country’s electricity needs and will only exacerbate the already precarious and unstable grid conditions and make electricity less reliable and more expensive,” Constantino said.

He said that even if concerns about radioactive waste, environmental safety, energy import dependency and national security concerns are put aside, “nuclear is even worse for our electricity system than coal. obsolete”.

“Nuclear will be a huge economic burden on our people, given the plethora of cost overruns and massive subsidies that have plagued the industry for decades to date,” Constantino said.

Greenpeace activist Khevin Yu has called on the Duterte administration to revoke EO 164 as it is not aligned with the interests of the Filipino people.

“Nuclear is the most dangerous and expensive source of electricity and it’s the last thing the Filipino people need at a time when we are already deeply in debt and trying to recover from a major health crisis.” , said Yu.

“The Duterte administration is about to leave a tarmacked legacy and prepare us for another horror story like Chernobyl and Fukushima, and of countries that use nuclear power but have no solution to radioactive waste from spent fuel.

Current and future generations will have to deal with the dangerous risks of exploiting nuclear energy, as well as the impacts of the climate crisis,” he said.

Yu called on the next administration to abandon the nuclear option once and for all.

CEED executive director Gerry Arances said Duterte should instead focus on preventing the rolling brownouts that are looming, especially with the upcoming election.

But in an online conference, the Under Secretary and Chairman of the DOE’s Nuclear Energy Program Implementation Organization (DOE-NEPIO), Gerardo D. Erguiza, Jr., said the measures to examine the viability of nuclear energy must be taken in the context of energy security. , not political considerations.

“Adopting a nuclear program is not just about building nuclear power plants. It is a matter of energy and national security. If it were to be decided in the future that the Philippines is fit and finally ready to embark on its journey to nuclear energy, then we would be able to look back and appreciate this historic broadcast,” said Erguiza.

Erguiza said a clear national policy must be established that would withstand changes in administration and the Nuclear Energy Program (NEP) must be enacted into law to ensure strict adherence to all relevant standards.

He said the NEP would be formulated under the guidance of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“To prevent the polarizing experiences of the past from being repeated, strong public consultation and information campaigns must be deployed to promote scientific findings on the benefits of using nuclear energy,” Erguiza said.

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