Lotilla: Modular nuclear reactors could be available by 2029

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Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla says that modular power plants could be commercially available in the country by 2029.

On the sidelines of a recent energy forum, Lotilla said many factors should still be considered before implementing nuclear power, including the study of sites for the power plants, where to dispose of nuclear waste, and how to prepare the regulators as well as the operators for the enforcement of nuclear power.

“So if we’re talking about modular nuclear reactors, right now the best estimates would be in the late 20s or the early 30s, bago itong magiging commercially available, at the earliest 2029,” said Lotilla.

Lotilla added that the United States (U.S.) experts’ involvement hinged on the 123 Agreement, highlighting the need for tighter control measures given that nuclear technology extends beyond energy applications and into agriculture and medicine, reinforcing the critical need for thorough regulation.

This is why the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), under the Department of Science and Technology, was put in place.

“ [The PNRI] is exercising a number of regulatory powers. [Dahil ito ay] non-power peaceful use of nuclear energy, ito ay magagamit ngayon [at] ireregulate ng PNRI,” added Lotilla.

Additionally, the Department of Energy (DOE) stressed the necessity of enacting a regulatory framework that governs both power and non-power aspects of nuclear. It stated that the promoter of nuclear energy cannot also serve as the regulator, as these roles serve distinct functions. Hence, establishing a separate nuclear regulatory agency is crucial.

When asked if there are firms that have already tapped the energy department if they could host a nuclear facility in the country, Lotilla said that the department is still waiting to hear from communities willing to house a facility, saying, “I have heard that some community leaders [are willing] but wala pang local community leader that has approached me and said we volunteer.”

According to DOE, the Nuclear Energy Program-Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) has been working on the country’s nuclear energy roadmap. Under the 2023-2050 Philippine Energy Plan (PEP), the entry of nuclear power generation capacities is targeted to be around 2032 with at least 1,200 megawatts (MW), and additional 1,200 MW by 2035, and 2,400 MW by 2050.



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