MANILA, Philippines – Newly appointed Energy Secretary Jose Ibazeta has vowed to keep nuclear energy development as an option to ensure adequate supply of power in the future.
“I have no problem with nuclear,” he said.
He said nuclear energy as a source of power has been known in other countries.
“It’s (nuclear option) open. If you look at Korea, they have 20 nuclear plants and they’re adding nine more. Japan has around 40 and France is 65 percent dependent on nuclear energy,” he said.
Some concerns on the safety of nuclear facilities, he said, could also be properly addressed by new technologies.
But Ibazeta admitted that the huge barrier in the development of nuclear energy is the cost that would have to be spent for its construction.
“The big question is the cost. Nuke is cheap power in terms of long term use, but the problem is the capital requirement when it is being built is expensive,” he said.
In his view, he said public and private sector participation in this endeavor may be needed.
“There may be concerns on security of asset, and I were to choose I would choose the BNPP (Bataan Nuclear Power Plant), if you can revive. But it is cheaper to build a new one,” he said.
At present, he said there have also been inititiatives from the legislative branch to explore the posibilities of putting up new nuclear power facilities.
“Having said that, Rep. Mark Cojuangco is looking at it seriously and has been in talks with Korea,” he said.
He, admitted, though that in both schemes, there could be downsides.
“It could be government and as the cost is high, I guess the private sector will be willing to build one, though the rates could be high.”
Cojuangco, who has authored a bill for nuclear energy development in the country, earlier had discussions for the entry of these nuclear power plants which could amount to $4 billion.
So far, the province of Pangasinan, the source said, is being considered as a host of the power facilities.
According to a high ranking government official who is privy to the ongoing talks on the nuclear energy development in the country, the local government of Pangasinan had passed a resolution allowing the province to locate these nuclear reactors with a condition that its power rate would be pegged at P3 per kilowatthour based on the 2009 demand computation. –Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star)