, Philippines

Philippines mulls adding nuclear energy to power mix

It previously inked a deal with Russia’s Rosatom for a pre-feasibility study.

The Philippines’ energy minister has proposed a formal executive order to the President’s Office to include nuclear power in the country’s energy mix, as the country deals with surging power demand over the coming years. It will still be subjected to discussions at the Cabinet and subsequent approvals.

Before the proposal, there has already been some traction on developing Philippines’ nuclear sector in recent months, given ongoing government considerations to restart the country’s Bataan Nuclear Plant and reintroduce nuclear energy in the country, according to Fitch Solutions. The construction of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was fully completed in the 1970s under President Ferdinard Marcos but was never fueled owing to safety considerations.

“Nuclear accidents around the globe and Philippines’ exposure to natural disasters thereafter also led to disinterest from multiple successive administrations, which left the plant dormant for decades. In 2016, President Duterte was the first to consider the feasibility of restarting operations at the Bataan plant, largely for energy security, which led to a series of feasibility studies and efforts on this front,” Fitch Solutions said.

In October 2019, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delivered the final report for their end-2018 review to assess the Philippines’ nuclear power infrastructure development, specifically at the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

“It was presented with an optimistic outcome and made several further recommendations and suggestions to aid the government in progressing their nuclear agenda. Following that, the DoE announced plans to draft a national nuclear programme, as they move forward with the legislative processes and a national decision toward nuclear power, in line with the international legal instruments and IAEA safety standards and security guidance,” Fitch Solutions said.

At present, Congress is allegedly considering the establishment of an independent regulatory body and has drafted legislation to address nuclear safety and security issues. “These developments were however criticised for not being more transparent in the Senate, which is set to begin an inquiry into the DoE's nuclear power agenda,” Fitch Solutions added.

To support the Philippines’ nuclear potential, foreign suppliers of equipment from the US, Japan, Russia, France and South Korea have already expressed interest in recent years and are keen to invest in the Philippines' nuclear power sector. The DoE also signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia's state-owned Rosatom for a pre-feasibility study on the construction of nuclear power plants in the country.

“As such, should the government decide to progress with its nuclear plans, with adequate resources given, they do have the capacity to ramp up the sector relatively quickly,” Fitch Solutions added.

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