The Energy Department said Tuesday it will prepare a nuclear energy roadmap which will include the possible rehabilitation of the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
“We’re coming up with a roadmap… including how we’re going to put that [BNPP] into operation,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said at the opening of the three-day International Atomic Energy Agency and International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation Conference at Diamond Hotel in Manila.
Cusi said nuclear technology could be a “viable choice for the country.”
“We are told that on a levelized basis, nuclear power is an economical source high on productivity and reliability, and low on costs and emissions,” the energy chief said.
Cusi said he remained open to adopting nuclear technology to secure the country’s power requirements.
“Personally, I’ve expressed my position about it. I’m not against it. As DoE secretary, it is my duty to study all options to ensure power supply for the coming generation,” he said.
Cusi said a team composed of officials from the Energy Department, National Power Corp. and Philippine Nuclear Research Institute would conduct a study.
Cusi said the revival of BNPP facility was being studied. He said department and international officials would visit the facility on Thursday “to determine its present status.”
He said rehabilitating and bringing the nuclear facility into commercial operations would require an investment of about $1 billion.
Cusi also said Filipinos should not be overtaken by fear of nuclear energy. “Fear is always there…Since 1977, we were supposed to open that. Had we opened that, our life would have been different. Because of fear, we did not open it…Don’t you think it’s a loss of opportunity to us?” he said.
Cusi cited reports and special studies showing that “operation of nuclear plants has become safer, more predictable and more dependable, with useful life of over 60 years.”
“We have to address the deep-seated social stigma and negative perception about nuclear energy…We also have to clear away decades-long half-truths, borne and exacerbated by highly prejudiced opinions conveniently dished out every time this matter of nuclear energy comes up. High on political innuendos, but lacking in scientific basis,” he said.
Cusi also said the price per kilowatt-hour of nuclear power generated was “predictable” unlike oil.
“Among all the studies, the cheapest power source is nuclear. We want to be competitive with the rest of our neighbors, so we have to come up with a cheap source of energy, and that is really nuclear,” he said.
Mikhail Chudakov, deputy director general and head of the Department of Nuclear Energy of IAEA, said he and other participants in the conference were “not in a position to push for nuclear power.”
“It’s a sovereign decision of a country,” Chudakov said.
Alex Burkart, co-chair of the Infrastructure Development Working Group for IFNEC said: “We’re not here to influence your choices.”
“We’re not in the business of deciding if a country is ready. We’re here to help a country make an informed decision,” he said.
Senate president Aquilino Pimentel said the government would need a legislation for nuclear power development.