MANILA, Philippines – Congressman Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, chairman of the House committee on energy, believes that the development of nuclear energy should be left in private sector hands.
“Privatization is the direction of the government. I think we should go on with that even in the development of nuclear energy for power generation,” Arroyo said in a press briefing over the weekend.
But Arroyo admitted that there are several schemes to be explored on how nuclear power should be handled and developed.
“There are many ways to develop nuclear energy. It could be done through the private sector, by the government or by foreign institution initiatives. But the most important thing here is to ensure that the nuclear facility that we will put up would be safe and will bring reliable and efficient power to the people,” he said.
According to Arroyo, it is also prudent for the Philippine government to come up first with a concrete policy on nuclear energy.
He said it is also necessary for the legislative body to come up with an appropriate bill for nuclear energy development.
“All investors would want to pour in capital in a market where there is a concrete policy,” he said.
Accordingly, Arroyo said they would urged the Senate to closely coordinate with Congress to come up with an appropriate bill on nuclear energy development.
“It (Senate) should have a counterpart bill. We should work on this together,” he said.
Arroyo also said they believe the planned revival of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) may be “feasible”. “Experts say the revival could be possible,” he said.
The Philippines plans to start up its first 600-megawatt (MW) nuclear power plant by 2025, a data from the Department of Energy (DOE) showed.
The DOE noted that the new nuclear power facility is expected to contribute 0.885 million tonne oil equivalent (MTOE) to the projected energy mix and reach up to 3.54 MTOE by 2035.
This means that the government had already inputted in its energy plan the power that could be generated from nuclear energy.
The DOE said it expects additional nuclear capacities of 600 MW to be in place by 2027, 2030 and 2034.
With this, the total capacity from nuclear under PEP 1998-2035 was projected to reach 2,400 MW by the end of the planning period.
The PEP said the Arroyo administration will be pushing for capability building and enhancement on the various aspects of nuclear energy which will specifically involve training of local manpower for the possible introduction of nuclear into the country’s energy system.
The DOE is currently looking at the possibilities of re-building local technical capability in nuclear sciences and engineering.
At present, the manpower capability of the National Power Corp., the state-owned power generating firm, in nuclear engineering has declined from the original number of 710 engineers who were trained by Westinghouse and EBASCO Overseas Corp. in the 1980’s to only 106 many of whom are now bound for retirement in the next five to 10 years.
As a long-term solution to meet future power demand, the government is exploring two options for nuclear energy development.
One option is to rehabilitate the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). If the government decides to rehabilitate BNPP, it plans to seek technical assistance from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).–Donnabelle L. Gatdula, Philippine Star