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Philippines looking at Chinese investors for cooperation on nuclear energy

The Philippines is banking on Chinese investors to participate in the planned venture into nuclear energy, along with cooperation in other areas such as renewable energy, the Department of Energy (DOE) said Monday.

According to Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, most of the commitments of Chinese investors in the Philippine energy sector involve solar photovoltaic and offshore wind projects, among others, including wind turbine operators.

“It’s consistent as well with the statement that was made between the two presidents that the two sides agreed to explore cooperation in such areas as solar power, wind energy, EVs (electric vehicles), and nuclear energy for electricity generation,” he said in a virtual briefing.

The briefing was made after a state visit by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to Beijing, China last week, where Malacañang said he secured $13.76-billion worth of investments in the energy sector.

The DOE in November amended a section of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008, allowing foreign investors or companies to engage in the exploration, development, and utilization of Philippine renewable energy sources.

“That I think has made a qualitative difference in terms of the attraction that renewable energy holds for investors particularly from China. The level of interest I think definitely would be higher because of that particular development,” Lotilla said.

The government targets to increase the share of renewable energy to 35% of the country’s power generation mix by 2030, and hike this to 50% by 2040. This includes offshore wind, waste-to-energy, expanded rooftop solar programs, as well as ocean and tidal stream energy.

In terms of nuclear energy, Lotilla said Chinese firms are already looking into the matter, which the Philippines can benefit from.

“They have several also companies that are studying of course conventional nuclear energy and even modular nuclear energy, so it is important for us to keep also the Chinese investors’ interest in this particular area,” he said.

Malacañang last week said the government is set to update its nuclear energy roadmap, with Marcos pushing for its adoption in a bid to lower power rates.

The President, along with his running mate Vice President Sara Duterte, have been pushing for the adoption of nuclear energy, which they said would lower electricity rates and help secure a steady power source.

His predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, last March issued Executive Order 164, directing the conduct of relevant studies for the adoption of a National Position for a Nuclear Energy Program.

The DOE in November said, however, that the Philippines will have to wait a decade to see a working nuclear power plant given the time needed for feasibility studies and other factors.

“At this point we cannot say how fast they (Chinese commitments) will be implemented but the President has committed that he’s going to make sure that there will be a systematic handholding of investors,” Lotilla said.

“We will be helping out the investors from day one, including being able to organize investors fora to invite investors to come to the Philippines and once they have given us their interest then we can help them all the way to helping them out with the requirements of the local governments,” he added.—AOL, GMA Integrated News