THE GOVERNMENT is considering small modular reactor (SMR) facilities in Occidental Mindoro and Palawan, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) said on Monday.

Carlo A. Arcilla, PNRI director, in a Laging Handa briefing, called the two provinces ideal locations for SMRs.

“There’s no supply of electricity… especially at night. How can you attract tourists? It is high time to consider nuclear power in islands that are not connected to the grid,” Mr. Arcilla said.

“SMRs can be placed in small islands that are off-grid,” he added.

Last month, Occidental Mindoro was placed under a state of calamity after power interruptions of as long as 20 hours a day.

The National Electrification Administration has since sealed a two-month deal to bring in additional power for the province at rates subsidized by the government. 

NuScale Power Corp. has expressed its interest in investing in the Philippines. The company describes itself as the global leader in SMR technology.

“It is good that we have offers for SMRs… our energy situation is critical because 50% of our energy is from coal,” he said.

Mr. Arcilla said renewable energy alone cannot provide for the Philippines’ energy needs and needs to be complemented with nuclear power.

He also said that the Philippines can no longer rely on natural gas because the Malampaya gas field, the only indigenous commercial source of natural gas, is expected to start becoming commercially depleted by 2024.

Meanwhile, Mr. Arcilla said that the rehabilitation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) remains on the table.

“To run BNPP it will need a political decision then followed by a technical decision. We have offers to rehabilitate the site) from Korea,” he said.

In February, PNRI said that Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. offered to revive the BNPP within five years for $1.19 billion. — Ashley Erika O. Jose