Gov’t told to pursue renewable over nuclear energy

Gov’t told to pursue renewable over nuclear energy

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES should diversify its renewable energy mix instead of pushing nuclear energy, which could end up costing more than reliable power sources, according to analysts.

“The government should continue pursuing its policy of broadening the nation’s renewable energy mix, while considering the limitations of renewables in ensuring a stable and reliable baseload,” Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst and convenor of think tank InfraWatch PH, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

If the government decides to go all out on nuclear energy development, it should consider environmental, he added, noting that these factors are rarely reflected in nuclear supply contracts.

Mr. Ridon said the state should develop a national policy on regulating the use of nuclear energy power generation to mitigate and assess the industry’s risks.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to establish an agency that will regulate the nascent nuclear industry.

The proposed Philippine National Nuclear Energy Safety Act will set up a Philippine Atomic Regulatory Authority that will “have the sole and exclusive jurisdiction to exercise regulatory control for the peaceful, safe and secure uses of nuclear energy and radiation sources,” according to a copy of the bill.

Speaker Martin G. Romualdez earlier said the measure would aid the Philippines’ path toward energy security.

The Philippines and the United States on Nov. 17 signed a deal that would allow Washington to export nuclear technology to Manila so it can develop a civilian nuclear energy infrastructure.

“We see nuclear energy becoming a part of the Philippines’ energy mix by 2032 and we are more than happy to pursue this path with the US,” President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said last week.

The government should make use of state-of-the-art technology in pursuing the development of the nuclear industry to ensure safety in harnessing the energy source, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said last week.

“The country is much better off seriously pursuing the development of Filipino technological and manufacturing capacity in wind, solar and hydro in a carefully paced manner,” Jose Enrique A. Africa, executive director of think tank Ibon Foundation, said in a Viber message.

He said the Philippines should lean on these energy sources since they are guaranteed to be cleaner and more affordable than nuclear power.

The Department of Energy (DoE) has said renewable energy accounted for about 22% of the country’s energy mix at the end of 2022, while coal-fired power plants accounted for almost 60%.

The government wants to boost the renewable energy share in the power mix to 35% by 2030 and to 50% by 2040.

As of June, the Energy department had awarded 1,087 renewable energy service contracts with a total potential capacity of 113.5 gigawatts.

Party-List Rep. Raoul Danniel A. Manuel, who voted against the House measure, said reliance on nuclear energy would risk the Philippines becoming “a potential dumpsite for the US and other countries’ nuclear waste.”

“We have much more experience with these options that are guaranteed cleaner and whose reliability and affordability are unambiguously improving as global use rapidly increases,” Mr. Africa said.