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SONA 2022

Time to re-examine nuclear plants strategy —Marcos

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. again expressed his desire to adopt nuclear energy as part of the country’s power mix, but said the government’s strategy has to be rethought.

“I believe it is time to re-examine our strategy towards building nuclear power plants in the Philippines,” Marcos said in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Marcos, however, did not mention the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), a project during his late father Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s regime which has been mothballed for more than three decades.

In 1976, Marcos Sr. ordered the construction of the $2.3-billion BNPP, but it was shelved after three years due to safety concerns.

The Duterte administration had pegged the cost of reviving the BNPP at around $1 billion.

The President, instead, said that “there have been new technologies developed that allow smaller scale modular nuclear plants and other derivations thereof.”

In October 2019, Russian State Nuclear Energy Corp. (Rosatom) Overseas JSC and the Department of Energy (DOE) signed a memorandum of intent on cooperation to conduct a pre-feasibility study on the construction in the Philippines of nuclear power plants based on small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

Nevertheless, Marcos said the Philippines will comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations for nuclear power plants “as they have been strengthened after Fukushima.”

The President said that public-private partnerships will play a role in realizing the goal of adopting nuclear power.

Renewable energy

Marcos also emphasized the need to build new power plants.

“At present, our demand for energy far exceeds our reliable supply. We must increase the level of energy production,” the President said.

“We must look at every possible option that would be appropriate for the Philippine situation,” he added.

The country’s Chief Executive said that the Philippines must take advantage of all the best technology that is now available, especially in the areas of renewable energy.

“Our search for new power sources should always be with an eye to improving the energy supply mix between traditional and renewable sources,” he said.

“The technology on renewable energy is progressing rapidly,” he added.

The President said many of the technologies are appropriate for the Philippines.

“We have already begun windmill power, and we are now expanding very quickly our solar power production,” Marcos said.

“For both offshore and on-shore wind turbines, the World Bank has calculated that there is the potential of 255 gigawatts by the year of 2030,” he said.

Marcos added that solar power has steadily increased its efficiency in converting sunlight to electrical power, “which is particularly attractive for us.”

“Because unlike wind power, solar power is practical almost everywhere in the Philippines all year round. In the move to lowering our carbon footprint caused by energy production, our advancement to renewables will have a lead time,” he said.

Transmission, distribution

The President said that the entire system of transmission and distribution has to be examined “for the purpose of finding ways to lower the price of energy to the consumer.”

“We must expand the network of our transmission lines while examining schemes to improve the operation of our electrical cooperatives,” Marcos said.

“All this in aid  of reducing energy cost especially but not limited to households,” he said. — BM, GMA News