Philippines considers reviving nuclear power generation

In order to address persistent electricity shortages across the country, the Philippines plans to revive its nuclear power ambitions despite public opposition and safety concerns in a country prone to typhoons and earthquakes, Financial Times wrote.

Manila has commenced talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and is looking for potential suppliers from Russia, South Korea, China and the US, energy secretary Alfonso Cusi told the paper.

The Philippines built a nuclear plant supplied by US company Westinghouse on the Bataan peninsula about 100 kilometers west of Manila during the rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The plant was completed in the mid-1980, but faced public opposition and the project was shelved when Marcos’ successor Corazon Aquino took power in February 1986 – and also in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in April of the same year.

Critics also pointed out the Bataan plant sits on a dormant volcano in a region prone to earthquakes, a notion that the government, which has played down safety concerns, rejects.

There were plans to revive the plant up to this day, but inspections showed that a revival would be difficult and expensive due to the facility’s outdated design. Today, the plant is used as an tourist attraction and technical showcase.

Potential Bataan revival and other options

Alternative options did not materialise yet. Among other steps, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte signed a letter of intent with Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom to cooperate on reactor technology during a trip to Moscow in October. Westinghouse was approached whether they would build a new facility, but nothing definite has been agreed on. The IAEA sent a mission to the Philippines last year that concluded the government in Manila had a “strong commitment” to setting its nuclear power strategy and addressing safety and other issues.

In Russia, the Philippines have been looking into the world’s first operative small modular nuclear reactors (SMR) by Rosatom which have started delivering electricity this year to a remote town in arctic Russia. Such small and moveable power blocks would have a potential for use in small power grids in geographically fragmented markets such as the Philippines, experts noted.

Advanced SMRs range in size up to 300 megawatts. They offer a number of advantages, such as relatively small size, reduced capital investment, ability to be sited in locations not possible for larger nuclear plants, easy shipping and assembling, as well as provisions for incremental power additions.

According to Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev, his company is working with the Duterte administration on studying the feasibility of building onshore or offshore SMRs in the country.

In order to address persistent electricity shortages across the country, the Philippines plans to revive its nuclear power ambitions despite public opposition and safety concerns in a country prone to typhoons and earthquakes, Financial Times wrote. Manila has commenced talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and is looking for potential suppliers from Russia, South Korea, China and the US, energy secretary Alfonso Cusi told the paper. The Philippines built a nuclear plant supplied by US company Westinghouse on the Bataan peninsula about 100 kilometers west of Manila during the rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The plant was completed...

In order to address persistent electricity shortages across the country, the Philippines plans to revive its nuclear power ambitions despite public opposition and safety concerns in a country prone to typhoons and earthquakes, Financial Times wrote.

Manila has commenced talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and is looking for potential suppliers from Russia, South Korea, China and the US, energy secretary Alfonso Cusi told the paper.

The Philippines built a nuclear plant supplied by US company Westinghouse on the Bataan peninsula about 100 kilometers west of Manila during the rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The plant was completed in the mid-1980, but faced public opposition and the project was shelved when Marcos’ successor Corazon Aquino took power in February 1986 – and also in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in April of the same year.

Critics also pointed out the Bataan plant sits on a dormant volcano in a region prone to earthquakes, a notion that the government, which has played down safety concerns, rejects.

There were plans to revive the plant up to this day, but inspections showed that a revival would be difficult and expensive due to the facility’s outdated design. Today, the plant is used as an tourist attraction and technical showcase.

Potential Bataan revival and other options

Alternative options did not materialise yet. Among other steps, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte signed a letter of intent with Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom to cooperate on reactor technology during a trip to Moscow in October. Westinghouse was approached whether they would build a new facility, but nothing definite has been agreed on. The IAEA sent a mission to the Philippines last year that concluded the government in Manila had a “strong commitment” to setting its nuclear power strategy and addressing safety and other issues.

In Russia, the Philippines have been looking into the world’s first operative small modular nuclear reactors (SMR) by Rosatom which have started delivering electricity this year to a remote town in arctic Russia. Such small and moveable power blocks would have a potential for use in small power grids in geographically fragmented markets such as the Philippines, experts noted.

Advanced SMRs range in size up to 300 megawatts. They offer a number of advantages, such as relatively small size, reduced capital investment, ability to be sited in locations not possible for larger nuclear plants, easy shipping and assembling, as well as provisions for incremental power additions.

According to Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachev, his company is working with the Duterte administration on studying the feasibility of building onshore or offshore SMRs in the country.

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