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China offers to participate in PHL transition to nuclear power 


THE Department of Energy (DoE) said on Wednesday that China has expressed its intention to participate in the process of integrating nuclear power in the Philippine energy mix.

Michael O. Sinocruz, director for Energy Policy and Planning at the DoE, said during the Powertrends 2023 International Business Forum that the DoE received a proposal from the Chinese government for possible collaboration in the feasibility study stage of introducing nuclear power.

“We have just received a proposal from China for cooperation in nuclear power, just recently, after the President’s visit,” Mr. Sinocruz told reporters on Wednesday, referring to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s Jan. 3-5 visit to China.

He said that while the proposal is not yet detailed, “it could be for the rehabilitation of BNPP (Bataan Nuclear Power Plant), for conventional, or small modular reactors (SMRs). The proposal was on general cooperation in nuclear power.”

Mr. Sinocruz said that the proposal is for government-to-government cooperation. The DoE has not discussed the proposal yet.

He said that the DoE is also planning to extend the Philippine Energy Plan until 2050 to integrate nuclear power in the country’s power mix. At present, the DoE’s energy plan only covers the 2020-2040 period, which mainly focuses on increasing the share of renewable energy to 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2040.

Mr. Sinocruz added that the DoE is still weighing which type of nuclear power is feasible for the Philippines. “There are several scenarios. We can include BNPP if that can still be rehabilitated, we can build new ones, either conventional or SMRs.”

He said that the DoE is looking at 13 sites for conventional reactors; for SMRs, it is looking at 15 to 16 sites.

Meanwhile, the DoE also plans to conduct another survey regarding the public acceptance of nuclear energy.

Mr. Sinocruz said that for the new survey, the DoE hopes to cover the entire country, specifically the host communities being considered.

“The last survey that we did is just on general acceptance on nuclear power, and only covered 1,000 participants,” he said.

Mr. Sinocruz said that the DoE is still determining a target for nuclear power’s share in the energy mix.

“We haven’t run the numbers because we are still discussing whether we can still increase the RE share, considering that there is a moratorium on coal,” he said, adding that one thing that needs to be considered in planning is whether “we are going to have a policy on early coal retirement.”

As of 2021, coal fired power plants accounted for a 57.5% share of gross power generation; renewable energy 23.4%; natural gas 17.7%; and oil 1.4%. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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