THE DEPARTMENT of Energy (DoE) hopes the government can soon adopt a position on including nuclear power in the generation mix.

Executive Order No. 116 signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on July 24 authorized a study on the viability of nuclear energy as a power source.

“Hopefully, by the end of this year, we’ll be able, once and for all, isasama na natin ang nuclear talaga sa ating energy mix,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told reporters in a virtual briefing late Thursday.

The President’s order constitutes an inter-agency committee with the DoE as the head to assess the need for nuclear power and to come up with a roadmap for the country’s nuclear energy program.

The order also requires the body to report to the President six months from its signing or by December.

Moreover, the committee is tasked to address the infrastructure gaps in nuclear adoption from the 19 requirements set forth by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global body for nuclear power.

“Halos kumpleto na lahat ‘yun (They’re almost complete) with the help of the IAEA,” Mr. Cusi, referring to the said requirements.

Lawmakers have yet to pass legislation to regulate the creation of nuclear facilities. The House of Representatives in January 2019 passed on final reading House Bill 8733, or the Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act.

The regulatory framework is needed if the government will push

with the rehabilitation of the 621-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant as well as for the entry and use of new nuclear facilities, the Energy secretary said.

The DoE is seeking host communities that will permit the installation of such facilities.

Palawan and Sulu were said to be amenable to nuclear adoption. “But still (it’s) a process, of course, we have to go

that usual process of (holding) public consultations,” Mr. Cusi said.

The DoE wants to include nuclear power in the generation mix, which is still dominated by coal, to meet the perceived uptick in electricity demand in the coming years. — Adam J. Ang