The Philippines needs to consider all energy options, including nuclear, to realize the goal of 30,189 megawatts (MW) of power supply in reserve by the year 2030, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Speaking at the Senate committee hearing on energy on Wednesday, Cusi said the Department of Energy (DOE) is studying all options, “not only for now, not only for tomorrow, but for the coming generation.”
Citing that the country’s power supply demand and reserve forecast for 2030, is 30,189 MW, he told the committee, “That is what we’re working for.”
The country, Cusi said, has sufficient supply; but it is low in reserve which the DOE is trying to build now. “If we get that, then we have stable supply for now,” he said.
However, the country needs to have reserves; otherwise, he said, “we will experience the problem that we had in July 31 to August 5.
The Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2016-2030 which is currently being formulated will be finalized this month and will be subjected to a nationwide consultation in October, he said.
Some of the energy resources the country has at present, particularly oil and natural gas, has a limited life, he pointed out. “Malampaya, for example, will be over by 2022-24. So we are looking for another source,” Cusi said.
“Unfortunately we don’t want coal. Many also oppose nuclear. But we have needs to meet,” he noted.
Therefore, he said, “We cannot leave any stone unturned.” The secretary also pointed out that many developed countries are using nuclear.
As of now, Cusi said, “we have 17,995 MW. To fill in the 30,000, we already have 6,178 in the pipeline and 4,525 MW has to be baseload. It cannot be an ordinary solar or biomass.”
However, he stressed, “We’re not saying it has to be nuclear, we’re not saying it has to be coal, we’re not saying it has to be geothermal; but it has to be baseIoad.” For mid-merit, he said, “this can be gas, this can be natural gas, 1100 MW; and for peaking, the highest peak generator, 553 MW peaking plant.”
To meet the required additional capacity, he said, we have to build 6,086 MW out of which 5,094 MW should be baseload and 992 MW for merit and peaking.
“We are doing this to guide the investors; we must have a very strong foundation for our power capacity,” he added.
The DOE is also considering reviving the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant, which was built in the 1970sduring the Ferdinand Marcos presidency at $2 billion. The National Power Corporation (Napocor) has been maintaining the mothballed facility at an annual cost of P27 million.
Nuclear has the more infinite timeframe unlike coal that has lifespan. Besides, electricity production by nuclear is cheaper than by coal, Cusi told the committee.
“The hard fact is that nuclear is not popular but it is our responsibility, no matter how unpopular it is to look at it and study it for nation building. We are looking at the nuclear. Our neighboring countries have nuclear. Even Indonesia where we source our coal, where they have sufficient coal, they are building nuclear. In 1977, the Philippines was the first one to start nuclear and up to now we don’t have that,” he said.
The Bataan nuclear power plant, if commissioned, can produce 620 MW, said Cusi. The original plan, he said, “was that there will be another power plant in Bataan of the same capacity so that’s another 620,” he added.
“If I were to decide, I will open it. But it’s not mine to decide. It’s for the country to decide,” Cusi said.
“Based on my knowledge, based on what I’ve seen, based on what I’ve studied, based on the experience of other countries, that is a good option for our country. It is safe to use,” he stressed.