DOE urged to rethink nuclear energy push

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2022 04:58 PM

A rusted outpost is set outside one of the secondary buildings at the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file
A rusted outpost is set outside one of the secondary buildings at the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - The Department of Energy (DOE) should reconsider President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s push to include nuclear power in the Philippines’ energy mix as its upkeep can be more costly than operating existing power plants, a think tank said on Saturday.

While some studies showed that nuclear energy is cheaper than other renewable sources, these do no take into account the cost of disposing nuclear waste, said Gerry Arances, executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED).

“Totoo na mas mura siya compared even sa ibang renewable energy sources pero ang nuclear waste ay in perpetuity,” he said in a forum.

“Ibig sabihin, nandiyan yan sa backyard natin habang buhay. Paano mo ime-maintain yan? Ilang bilyong piso ang ilalalaan? So dapat pag-isipan mong maigi,” he said.

Marcos earlier said that he wants to study the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, one of his father’s projects that was never used due to fears over safety.

In May, then-Energy Undersecretary Gerardo Erguiza, Jr. said that the process in reviving the mothballed plant would be long as it would require about 6 to 8 years in preparing the framework for its operations.

But Erguiza noted that Marcos can also issue an executive order to start the rehabilitation of the Philippines’ lone nuclear power facility.

CEED said Energy Secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla should instead consider renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and tidal power to veer the Philippines from its dependence on coal, which has become “500 times more expensive” since the pandemic began.

“No-brainer ito para sa bansa natin hindi lang for climate reasons… This is about economics,” Arances said.

“Hindi na talaga puwedeng palalakasin natin ang dependence natin sa fossil fuels.”

In 2021, coal accounted for over 60 percent of the Philippines’ energy mix, followed by renewable sources, natural gas and oil-based power sources, data from the DOE showed.

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