The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) favors the integration of nuclear power into the country’s energy mix, which could also help lower one’s electricity bill.
PNRI Director Carlos Arcilla clarified, however, that they are not against the use of solar and wind power, which are also cost-efficient sources of energy. Nuclear power could be an important back-up, he said.
“The sun does not shine at night, and there is always a typhoon in the country. A nuclear power plant could store energy that could last for up to 18 months. There is now also a technology that could enable one to extract uranium from the ocean, and generating electricity from uranium is also cost-efficient,” he added.
Last July, President Duterte issued Executive Order 116, directing a study for the adoption of a national position on a nuclear energy program. The EO also created the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) with the Secretary of the Department of Energy as chairman, Department of Science and Technology as vice chair.
Arcilla said the NEP-IAC will soon start crafting recommendations on integrating the nuclear energy into the energy mix, its feasibility, and how it could be done, among others.
He pointed out that some people think nuclear power plants are not safe, but there are 450 nuclear power plants globally, 100 of which are in America. “If it is unsafe, why would America have 100 nuclear power plants?” he asked.
Arcilla also pointed out that nuclear energy is clean, does not produce greenhouse emissions and complements other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
“Where would the country source its energy needs once the Malampaya runs out of gas, which could run out in five years. There has to be a back-up,” he stressed, adding that a good alternative is liquefied natural gas, along with nuclear energy.
Arcilla said that even if the President would agree to the suggestion of integrating nuclear power in the country’s energy mix, it would take time before it could happen.
“Maybe about four to five years, because there’s a lot to be done and to be considered,” he said.
Among these concerns are amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). “We need to determine who can own a power plant. We are always after the safety, security, and safeguards,” he explained.
The PNRI chief also pointed out that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant already exists and merely needs rehabilitation.