DOE eyes Sulu for Modular Nuclear Plant site

Cusi: Chinese gov’t to help assess BNPP operations

The province of Sulu is one of the areas eyed for a modular nuclear power plant as the Energy Department targets to complete a nuclear energy program before the year ends.

“We are looking at nuclear as a source of power … for island provinces,” Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said, adding that he spoke with Sulu and “they are agreeable to host a nuclear power plant.”

A study on the country’s nuclear program is being conducted by the Nuclear Energy Implementing Organization (NEPIO). They have also scheduled scientific visits and capacitating programs to come up with a national policy

“Within this year, we will come up with a comprehensive report. Of course, it will be presented to the Office of the President,” Department of Energy (DOE) undersecretary Donato Marcos said.

He added that the Sulu province has been very aggressive in pitching to host a nuclear power facility.

“They usually visit the secretary and proposing that they will be hosting an SMR, a small modular reactor, so they can finally have stable, secured, predictable and reasonably priced electricity in the region,” Marcos said.

The NEPIO will work in three phases, beginning with a comprehensive study on the overview of the country’s energy needs that will lead to forming a policy decision on nuclear.

The second phase calls for preparatory work for the construction of a nuclear power plant, and the last phase focuses on activities in implementing the said power facility.

The study also includes establishing a nuclear modular reactor in other provinces.

“As long as the provinces are willing. That’s why were forming a national policy… Once it is in place, and there is a host province, we can do it,” Cusi said.

However, the study may take longer as it will iron out every detail for the country’s nuclear program, Cusi said.

“What makes it longer is process because of course, a due process for everybody…So we have to go through the process every step of it. Unlike when you have a country that is willing or a host province that would be willing to do it, then the process will be faster,” the energy chief said.

Cusi added that there’s still many oppositions to the reopening of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) that has been mothballed since the 1980s.

“We are going into the process of resolving all the concerns that are being raised against it,” he said.

The NEPIO was established by the DOE to unify the conduct of various studies and research on nuclear energy development in the country.