DoE: Nuclear power to play role in achieving dev’t goals

Posted on April 18, 2017

NUCLEAR ENERGY will play a “pivotal” role in augmenting the country’s power supply and will help in accomplishing the administration’s long-term vision of lifting most Filipinos into the middle class by 2040, an Energy department official said on Monday.

“The Philippines has always viewed nuclear energy as a long-term option for power generation that will provide supply security, stability and reliability,” said Department of Energy (DoE) Undersecretary Donato D. Marcos in a speech delivered at a seminar on nuclear energy and radioactive sources.

“Should this be the path that the country will take, nuclear further diversifies our existing generation mix comprised of coal, natural gas, geothermal, hydropower, oil, wind, biomass and solar,” he said.

The seminar, which is closed to media, opened on Monday and has representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as participants. It ends on Wednesday.

Mr. Marcos’ statement serves to bolster the department’s stance of being “technology- and resource-neutral” in ensuring energy security and sufficiency.

“Owing to its baseload characteristics, nuclear energy will be in support to the thrust of the Philippine Government which is the realization of the Philippine Development Plan’s (PDP) drive for industrialization and urbanization. It is central for a country towards the path of development to have the available and required capacity to meet the nation’s increasing demand requirements,” said Mr. Marcos, who was designated chairman of the DoE’s newly formed Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Office (NEPIO).

He described Ambisyon Natin 2040 as “a long-term vision that highlights the aspirations, values and principles of the Filipino people for themselves and for the country.”

“This vision for the country is: By 2040, the Philippines shall be a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society where no one is poor. Our people will enjoy long and healthy lives, are smart and innovative, and will live in a high-trust society,” he said.

He said the President’s “strong political will” is “essentially one decisive factor if a country is to embark on a nuclear power program.”

The DoE previously said that it was considering the revival of the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant. Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi last month also said Sulu province had offered to host a small modular nuclear reactor.

“Discussions on nuclear energy as well as radioactive sources tend to attract issues on security,” Mr. Marcos said. “We are cognizant of this and must admit that this issue cannot be discounted as people and the environment must always be protected.”

He said security and physical protection are among the 19 infrastructure issues identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for countries pursuing nuclear power development.

“When we talk about radioactive sources, there is also emphasis on security. There must be a security culture practiced and a system well in place. Citing IAEA’s definition of the concept, a dynamic and effective security culture should exist at all levels of operator staff and management,” he said.

Citing IAEA, he said the security system must be designed by the operator’s security professionals “to deter adversaries from committing a malicious act or to minimize through detection, delay and response the likelihood of an adversary succeeding in completing such a malicious act.”

“More importantly, the security system must be able to present the basic security functions -- deterrence, detection, delay, response and security management,” he said.

Aside from ASEAN member states, participants in the seminar include representatives from the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute. The resource speakers are from IAEA; Integrated Support Center for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Nuclear Security (ISCN) of Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA); European Union Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative; and ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE).

“Our participation here today indicates that we value regional and international cooperation on nuclear and radioactive materials security,” Mr. Marcos said. -- Victor V. Saulon