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Napocor urged to consider use of nuclear power

Richmond MercurioThe Philippine Star
November 19, 2022 | 12:00am


Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla has asked the National Power Corp. (Napocor) to consider the use of nuclear energy to strengthen the country’s power sector.

“As we go down the road and consider new opportunities in modular nuclear or even the future of fusion as a source of power, these are the opportunities that Napocor may look into,” Lotilla said.

Napocor, as mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 or Republic Act 9136, is mandated to provide power generation and its associated power delivery systems in areas that are not connected to the transmission system

It manages and operates the transmission line systems of six provinces such as Palawan, Catanduanes, Masbate, Marinduque, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro.

Napocor Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) currently supplies 229 missionary areas throughout the country, most of which have yet to attain a 24-hour electric power service.

When it comes to nuclear energy, the DOE is eyeing the development of small modular reactors (SMRs), which have a capacity between 50 megawatts (MW) and 300 MW.

SMRs are faster to build compared to large nuclear plants and can be deployed to off-grid areas for a more reliable source of electricity.

DOE OIC-director for energy policy and planning bureau Michael Sinocruz earlier said the government is considering the deployment of SMRs to off-grid areas.

For next year, the DOE is targeting to identify potential sites for the country’s planned use of nuclear energy.

“There were sites identified way back before the Bataan nuclear power plant was decided, then there have been some additional potential sites as well,” Lotilla previously said.

The agency intends to start the siting studies immediately instead of waiting for the regulatory and legal framework be finalized first and then only to do the siting studies afterwards.

“We want to proceed in parallel and have the siting studies done especially because the budget utilization will be required for assembling a multi-disciplinary group to do it. And therefore we will also be training people to be able to do that,” Lotilla said.

Lotilla earlier emphasized the need to have a regulatory and policy framework in place first when it comes to the use of nuclear energy in the country.

“We’ve always taken the position that we should not ban technologies, but we should set standards. The Philippines has been the earliest supporter of the peaceful uses of nuclear power,” he said.

“That’s why the President said that if in putting the regulatory measures in place, we will have to think about the safety standards and that we will comply with all the strengthened requirements imposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, especially after the Fukushima incident in Japan,” he said.

As such, nuclear energy is still a long term option for the Philippines for power generation.