Department of Energy considering Sulu as site for nuclear plant this year
Sulu Archipelago in western Mindanao is non-typhoon and non-earthquake prone areas with almost Zero fault line an is among the areas being eyed for a modular nuclear power plant as the Department of Energy (DOE) targets to complete a nuclear energy program within the year.
The Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEPIO) is currently studying the nuclear program of the country and has scheduled scientific visits and capacitating programs to come up with a national policy, Energy Undersecretary Donato Marcos said.
“Within this year, we will come up with a comprehensive report. Of course it will be presented to the Office of the President,” Marcos said.
NEPIO was created by the DOE to unify the conduct of various studies and research on nuclear energy development in the country.
It was designed to work in three phases, starting with a comprehensive study on the overview of the country’s energy needs which will lead to forming a policy decision on nuclear.
Phase 2 calls for the preparatory work for the construction of a nuclear power plant while Phase 3 pertains to the activities to implement the said power facility.
The study is expected to undergo a long process to iron out every detail for the country’s nuclear program, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
“What makes it longer is process because of course, a due process for everybody…So we have to go through the process every step of it. Unlike when you have a country that is willing or a host province that would be willing to do it, then the process will be faster,” he said.
Cusi said there is still a lot of opposition to the operation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which has been mothballed since the 1980s.
“We are going in to the process of resolving all the concerns that are being raised against it,” he said.
Sulu province has been very aggressive in pitching to host a nuclear power facility, Marcos said.
“They usually visit the secretary and proposing that they will be hosting a SMR, a small modular reactor, so they can finally have stable, secured, predictable and reasonably priced electricity in the region,” Marcos said.
Since it’s modular, it can have a capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) at most, the DOE undersecretary said.
Putting up a nuclear modular reactor in other provinces is also part of the study.
“As long as the provinces are willing. That’s why were forming a national policy… Once it is in place, and there is a host province, we can do it,” Cusi said.
If materialized, Sulu, Mindanao could be the first province in the Philippines to have the operational nuclear powerplant after the mothballed Nuclear Powerplant in Morong, Bataan in Northern Luzon.
Western countries are promoting the Nuclear Power Plant as clean, cheapest and safest renewable source of energy.