Adopting nuclear power in the Philippines could result in savings on fuel imports and electricity costs, ultimately enhancing the country’s appeal as a more competitive location for investors, House Nuclear Energy Committee and Pangasinan Rep. Mark O. Cojuangco said.
In a report by Business World, Cojuangco said during a visit to the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) said foreign investors are interested in utilizing Filipino labor for their manufacturing companies but are deterred by high energy costs.
Cojuangco stated that legislators will not have to offer incentives to encourage the construction of nuclear power plants since the “incentives are already built in.”
He explained that nuclear energy eliminates the need to import conventional fuel in large quantities. As a result, transportation of nuclear fuel can be done with a single aircraft, which eliminates the need for extensive shipping infrastructure for fossil fuels.
According to Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities Energy Transition Advisor Alberto Dalusung III, nuclear energy has a significant advantage in terms of fuel energy density, which makes its transportation costs lower.
He, however, emphasized that renewable energy sources, like solar, wind, and hydro, “do not have fuel costs since they are indigenous and readily available.”
For Greenpeace Philippines Energy Transition Campaigner Khevin A. Yu, there is no guarantee that utilizing nuclear energy would be economically viable.
He further commented that the government could not intervene and would have to depend on the private sector investment that is primarily focused on transitioning towards renewable energy.
When asked about nuclear plant safety in light of the Philippines’ susceptibility to natural disasters, Cojuangco suggested that these apprehensions can be resolved by conducting a geological site assessment.
He explained that the plant should be positioned at an elevated location to make it safe from tsunamis and ensure that the seismic design is robust enough to withstand potential earthquakes in the Philippines.
PNRI Chief of the Nuclear Services Division, Preciosa Corazon B. Pabroa, stated that a regulator would be responsible for ensuring the safe utilization of nuclear energy, indicating the anticipated authority of the proposed Philippine Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (PhilATOM), filed under House Bill No. 7049 or the Philippine National Nuclear Energy Act.
Under the bill, PhilATOM will be responsible for supervising the building and functioning of nuclear or radiation facilities, as well as procuring, producing, importing, exporting, storing, and disposing of nuclear and radioactive materials in compliance with safety guidelines set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
PhilATOM will have “sole and exclusive jurisdiction to exercise regulatory control for the peaceful, safe, and secure uses of nuclear energy and radiation sources in the Philippines.”
Under Executive Order (EO) No. 164 signed by former president Rodrigo Duterte, nuclear power will be included in the country’s energy mix under the Nuclear Energy Program.