The Department of Energy (DOE) will still provide necessary information regarding nuclear energy despite President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s negative statement that doused proposals that the country turn to nuclear to bring down the cost of electricity.
“Here at the DOE, we’ll always look at all options available. That’s what I’ve been saying since the beginning–we’ll consider all options, all power sources of energy, without bias. That’s our job,” DOE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in an interview on Thursday.
“But of course the President is the master planner, he’s the architect, he’s the foreman. We have to do our job. If he says no, there are other things to consider. I still have to ask that,” he said.
“But if you saw the interview, he closed his doors. Perhaps we need to provide the necessary information,” he added.
“It has to be studied carefully by Congress and by the Filipino people. For after all, pag may leak ‘yan, lahat tayo tatamaan diyan [if there’s a leak, all of us will suffer]and it’s our country, remember that,” President Duterte said in an interview earlier this week.
The DOE is considering reviving the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant, which was built in the 1970s under President Ferdinand E. Marcos at an original cost of $2 billion. Construction was completed in 1984, but the plant was never utilized due to safety concerns. The National Power Corporation (Napocor) has been maintaining the mothballed facility at an annual cost of P27 million.
“What does the country need so we can have a sufficient, affordable, secured energy supply? The foundation for power supply is base load. What is that? What are we using? Geothermal, natural gas, coal, and sometimes hydro, but we cannot depend on hydro as a base load,” Cusi said.
“As of now, that’s what we’re looking at. Then we said, what else could be used for base load at this moment?
That’s why we’re looking at nuclear. As of now, we have three [types of]baseload. What should be our baseload capacity? This is the demand, what is the baseload capacity,” he said.
DOE data showed that demand for electricity is expected to grow by an average of 5 percent per year until 2030, or to about 126 terrawatt-hours (TWh) from the 2015 level of 82 TWh.
Cusi said that nuclear energy would be included in the proposed Philippine Energy Plan (PEP).
“We’re doing a 15 year plan, up to 2040. But we’re looking at this on the basis of an assumption of 7 percent GDP, population growth of 1.8 percent. We factor everything in. From there, we build up our power requirements,” he added.