DOE: Nuke projects may begin in 3 years


Should the new administration make use of the recently-signed Nuclear Energy Program (NEP), it would take three years to be able to deploy nuclear projects as public acceptance and regulations still need to be established, the Department of Energy (DOE) said. 

“If the next administration would want to go into this, the fastest that we can deploy nuclear is about three years’ time,” DOE Energy Utilization Management Bureau Director Patrick Aquino said at an online forum on Tuesday. 

Under Executive Order 164, which Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed in late February, nuclear power will now be included in the country’s energy mix through the Philippine Energy Plan. The regulations and infrastructures under the NEP must be guided by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 19 Infrastructure Issues. 

“We need to pass the enabling legislation and most importantly, public acceptance is being sought at a national level and at a local level for the site-specific location of the nuclear power plant,” Aquino said. 

Philippine Nuclear Research Institute chief Dr. Carlo Arcilla had said that legal roadblocks would face the implementation of the NEP. 

The DOE has already identified 15 areas that could be possible locations for new nuclear power plants. 

Duterte has also ordered the NEP-Inter Agency Council (NEP-IAC) to look into the possible reopening of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

As for Duterte’s potential successors, Vice Pres. Leni Robredo said she is open to discussions on nuclear power. Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno are both against the reopening of the BNPP. Pacquiao particularly prefers the development of floating nuclear plants instead. Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., meanwhile, would push for the reopening of the BNPP, which was built under the regime of his father – the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. 

Last year, BDO Unibank – the country’s largest bank – said that it was open to funding nuclear power projects. 

In March, the DOE signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States to explore the development of small modular reactors (SMRs) in island provinces.

Before that, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian – chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy – said in the January episode of Power Podcast that he favors tapping SMRs over restarting the BNPP.