The Department of Energy (DOE) is set to submit to the Office of the President the results of a perception study on the possible development of nuclear energy.
“We cannot disclose now the perception survey. It will be presented to the Cabinet and, whatever will be the result, we can release it. We are still covered by a nondisclosure agreement regarding the perception survey,” said Energy Undersecretary Donato Marcos.
He said the DOE commissioned a third party to conduct the survey to determine “who is the strongest endorser, what are reaction of the people regarding so many items of concerns.”
The DOE underscored the need to tap all available energy resources, including nuclear energy, to assure the country’s energy security amid ever growing demand.
“We are technology neutral, because we want to explore all possible ways to bring affordable, secure and reliable power to Filipinos throughout the entire archipelago,” said Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi.
“I believe this is the time for us to take a leap and include nuclear power into our energy mix. We wouldn’t want to wait until we are all crying for power before we actually do something,” Cusi added.
He said there is a possibility that a national policy on nuclear energy may be crafted during this administration.
Marcos, who is also the chairman of the Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Office (Nepio), said the planned nuclear policy would highlight three major points: Include nuclear energy in the country’s energy mix, expand Nepio and prioritize the passage of a nuclear policy bill.
“It’s because it would be better if Nepio is with the Office of the President. It should be run by a commission,” he said.
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is the country’s first and only attempt at nuclear power development. It was supposed to be the first of two nuclear plants to be built in the northern province of Bataan. It was also the first nuclear power plant in Southeast Asia, and was identified as a solution to the 1973 oil crisis that had adversely affected the global economy, including the Philippines.
The $2.3-billion project, however, was mothballed in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. But clamor for the reopening of the BNPP was revived during the power crisis in the 1990s and the skyrocketing oil prices in 2007.
During these periods, the DOE actually came close to reconsidering nuclear power as a potential energy source for the country.
The Fukushima nuclear-plant incident in 2011, however, created global panic and concerns about the safety and integrity of nuclear plants.