Power players participate in the IAEA Nuclear Summit

Views on Nuclear Energy rise with PH hosting IAEA Nuclear Summit

With the Philippines hosting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear summit this week, the Department of Energy (DOE) said they will not discriminate against any technology that will help the country achieve reliable and affordable electricity as energy requirement continues to grow.

“We will not disqualify anybody… but we will also emphasize that in that summit we will not be forced by anybody to come up with nuclear power plants,” DOE Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said.

“It’s a high level study that will help Filipinos come up with the resolution whether or not to go into it.”

Meanwhile, power producers and industry officials have also expressed various opinions on the idea of nuclear energy for the Philippines. Although open minded, some had reservations about its safety and acceptability in the country.

DMCI Holdings Inc president Isidro Consunji said that he has no issues with nuclear power for the country as long as its “safe and competitive.”

“If a private entity wants to build a nuclear plant, there is nothing preventing [it] from doing so,” he said. “But it will have to compete with all the coal, gas and geothermal plants under development,” Philippine Independent Power Producers Association president Luis Miguel O. Aboitiz expressed.

However, nuclear energy may meet a lot of resistance in the country because of safety issues, according to Antonio R. Moraza, president of Aboitiz Power Corp. Although not an expert, he said that the technology may cause “stability issues for the grid.”

Henry J. Schumacher, vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines said that some countries have been planning to get rid of nuclear plants.

“I hope this [nuclear] is not an option. Countries like Japan and Germany are deciding to get out of it because of the dangers involved in terms of natural calamities and in disposing of the used nuclear material,” he said. “I firmly believe that the Philippines has better options in renewable energy that is dropping in costs continuously.”

Former DOE undersecretary Jose Layug Jr. was neutral about adopting nuclear energy in the country’s energy system.

“To me, as long as it’s cost-efficient, and will be accepted by the people, [and] we have enough space for it, why not?” he said, adding that there’s no reason for to prevent any resource or fuel type.

“But cost is a factor and also acceptability because wherever you will build it has to be accepted.” he added.

Layug said that there were plans on conducting a nuclear energy study in the country during Jose Rene Almendras’ term as DOE secretary in 2011. However, it was scrapped because of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan that same year.