SULU is keen on having a nuclear facility to help address the power needs in the island province, according to officials of the Department of Energy (DoE).
“Sulu is proposing a site to host the nuclear, but we are in the process of unifying a comprehensive study, Energy Undersecretary Donato Marcos told reporters over the weekend.
“We met with people from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They are capacitating our technical working group to realize our 19 infrastructure requirements,” he said.
Marcos noted the project still has a long way to go. “Definitely, we are studying the nuclear energy program itself. It is an umbrella nuclear program for the whole Philippines, not only specifically dealing with the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).”
Marcos is leading the consultations and the information program to determine the people’s pulse on nuclear energy, considering the existence of a non-operating nuclear facility in the country. He also participates in International forums on nuclear energy, specifically on safety.
The energy department is now proceeding with unified and coordinated efforts and activities with the creation of a Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (Nepio).
The Nepio is headed by a steering committee with top DoE officials at the helm, while DoE bureaus will create technical working groups to ensure effective and timely implementation of its functions and responsibilities.
The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) and its attached agencies and other relevant government offices and local and international partner organizations will be asked to help the Nepio do its job.
“We have some scheduled scientific visits, because we must first capacitate our people at Nepio. The good secretary is also leading the study tour at the Energy Forum in Vienna this May,” Marcos said.
“Within this year we come up with a comprehensive report. Of course, it will be presented to the Office of the President,” he said.
In the case of Sulu, Marcos said the province is very aggressive. “They usually visit Secretary Cusi, proposing that they host an SMR.”
He noted an SMR or small modular reactor is less than 100 megawatts. It can help can help make electricity stable, secure, predictable and reasonably priced in that region.
“They’re somewhat vouching on the exercise of autonomous power, but there are some legislations relevant to this,” he said.
Sulu is part aof Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
For Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, what makes the process longer is the need to pursue due process.
“With BNPP, there are people who are apprehensive about it. Unlike when you have a country that is willing, or a host province that would be willing to do it, then the process will be faster,” he said.
However, the current debacle does not need to be resolved first before going forward with the Sulu project. “That is not sequential with the BNPP. We can do it in some other area,” Cusi added.