Gov’t mulls conversion of BNPP into coal-fired facility – Almendras

October 6, 2011 at 15:24

MANILA, Philippines – The government is considering the conversion of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) into a coal-fired power facility, the country’s top energy official said.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said an initial study conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) indicated that the plant’s conversion is leaning toward a “coal-fired” facility.

He said if proven feasible, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) would bid out the technology to be used in building a coal-run power plant in the 600-megawatt (MW) BNPP facility.

But Almendras clarified that the government would only be bidding out the contract for the operation and management of the new facility in the BNPP area.

“The asset will be retained by the government,” he said.

Almendras admitted that the development of nuclear energy would still be a “socio-political decision”. The Aquino administration decided to set aside plans to develop nuclear energy as a source of electricity after the recent nuclear disaster in Japan.

According to the energy chief, they have also decided to trim down the budget being allocated for the maintenance of BNPP. “We are in the process of downsizing it (Napocor) budget for BNPP’s maintenance,” he said.

To recall, all assets pertaining to the BNPP were transferred by National Power Corp. to the National Government in 1986. Despite this, however, Napocor continued to shoulder the expenses for the upkeep of the nuclear power plant to P40 million to P50 million per year.

From 1986 to December 2010, the BNPP-related advances made by Napocor have accumulated to P4.367 billion.

The government had earlier announced plans to realign the P100 million intended for the study on nuclear power development to other projects.

Almendras said the department will submit the proposal for budget realignment to Congress although a portion of the amount will still be spent for nuclear study.

“We want to use part of it for the fuel anti-smuggling, power rationalization, alternative fuels study and nuclear study,” Almendras said.

Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug earlier said the department has no program for nuclear energy other than to study it.

“In fact, what we have done, due to the Fukushima incident, we’re thinking of reconsidering the study and see whether we should do other studies apart from nuclear,” Layug said.
By: Donnabelle L. Gatdula
Source: The Philippine Star, Oct. 4, 2011
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