Manila, Philippines – The government is looking into operating the only nuclear power plant in the country. The Bataan nuclear power plant was built four decades ago, which costs more than $2 billion, but has never been used. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi wants to ensure the long-term supply of clean and cheap electricity in the country.
The Philippines is joining other nations that are considering to add nuclear power to their energy mix, including Southeast Asian neighbors Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.
Cusi said on Tuesday, August 30, reviving the aging 620-megawatt nuclear plant in Bataan will require a $1 billion investment. The nuclear generation is one of the many options for the Philippines to meet its rising power demands, with yearly electricity demand expected to rise by an average of 5 percent until 2030, Cusi added.
“We have to weigh all our options, with emphasis not just on meeting capacity requirements, but sustainability and environmental obligations as well,” Cusi states, speaking at the opening of a three-day international conference on nuclear power in Manila.
Cusi will revive a government task force that was formed dating back in 2007 to study the nuclear power solution as an alternative to imported fuel oil and coal energy.
Technical experts, including those from the International Atomic Energy Agency, have been invited to help the Philippines identify the next steps and come up with a the decision. Cusi has not provided any timetable for the said project, but he is expecting protests against it, most especially by the environmentalists and the Catholic Church arguing that the nuclear power plant is unsafe and much expensive.
The late and former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos order the Bataan nuclear power plant built in 1976 in response to growing commercial electricity prices and it was finished way back in 1984.
The nuclear-powered thermal power stations in Bataan province has never started generating electricity after it was declared unsafe because the plant is located on a major earthquake fault line and stands near the Mount Pinatubo, which was a dormant volcano at that time.
Still, the project was inoperative in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Just a decade ago the Philippine government was looking into reopening the Bataan nuclear plant, however, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident renewed concerns regarding its safety.