Nuclear power in country’s energy mix sought


MANILA – Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is seeking approval of a proposed executive order (EO) to include nuclear power in the Philippines’ energy mix, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Cusi made this proposal during the 47th Cabinet meeting led by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night.

In a Palace press briefing, Panelo said Cusi made the proposal as the Philippines is expected to have “a rapid growth in electricity demand, in which a 24/7 power is essential and necessary.”

Cusi’s proposed EO is among the short-term and long-term outlooks for the power sector and the corrective policy issuances being undertaken by the Department of Energy (DOE).

“The proposed EO was submitted to by the OES (Office of Executive Secretary) to the President on February 20, 2020. It has not been approved yet,” Panelo said.

He said the proposed revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and building of new nuclear energy facilities were not tackled in the Cabinet meeting.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is the country’s first and only nuclear power plant built during the term of former President Ferdinand Marcos. However, it never became operational due to alleged safety concerns and corruption issues.

Earlier, Panelo said Duterte intends to first study a nuclear energy agreement the country entered into with a Russian company during his state visit to Moscow in October last year.

However, the Memorandum of Intent to explore the possible construction of nuclear power plants in the country is only a framework for discussion.

“The DOE reiterated that the Memorandum of Intent signed last October 4, 2019 was a framework for discussion and not for a particular construction of a small modular reactor (SMR). The President wanted to study first the proposal,” Panelo said in a previous statement.

This was among the 10 business agreements signed between the two countries estimated to be worth USD12.57 million or about PHP650 million.

Currently, nuclear power plants are prohibited under the Constitution. Duterte said he will discuss the proposal with members of his Cabinet.

The Philippines has been looking at Russia to invest in the Philippines’ energy sector.

In November 2017, the Philippines and Russia agreed on a nuclear cooperation program under a memorandum of cooperation signed during the 12th East Asia Summit.Cusi said this cooperation is part of the government’s intention to develop a variety of applications for nuclear energy that are within policies, particularly for power generation. (PNA)