By Myrna M. Velasco
Majority or 79 percent of Filipinos are receptive to the proposal of rehabilitating and repowering the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan nuclear power plant (BNPP), according to a government-commissioned social perception survey.
The outcome of the survey that was undertaken by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) covering 4,250 respondents in 17 regions had been submitted to the Office of President Rodrigo Duterte. The survey results will serve as guide on any policy decision that Malacanang will be undertaking as to the country’s nuclear power renaissance pathway.
“The result of the survey was already submitted to the Office of the President – and the full results will be announced soon,” a ranking government official has indicated. Currently, it was noted that the survey result is still covered by confidentiality agreement, hence, the full details can’t be made public yet.
In that same survey, at least 72 percent of the respondents conveyed that the key person they would put their confidence on to chart and decide on the country’s decision on the BNPP rehabilitation as well as the development of new nuclear plants will be President Duterte.
Depending on which rehabilitation study outcome will be followed, it was estimated that the project funding for BNPP’s repowering could range from $1.0 billion to $2.0 billion.
Further, the SWS survey determined that 65 percent of Filipinos are keen on giving thumbs up to the planned construction of new nuclear power projects in the country.
Just recently, the Department of Energy (DOE) has presented to the Senate its targeted feasibility study on the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) to become part of the country’s energy mix.
That had been anchored on the recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the Philippine government had inked with Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation during Duterte’s state visit to Russia early part of October.
The SMRs, it was explained, are smaller type of nuclear fission reactors compared to the conventional ones – and these are often manufactured at a plant and could already be brought to the site-of-use for assembly.
These nuclear power facilities could have generation of less than 100 megawatts – and they are ideal for specific group of end-users, such as in economic zones or island-grids.
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has been continuously making his pitch for the revival of nuclear power development in the country – with him noting that such could be the answer to the country’s quest for energy security – especially in the electricity system’s need for baseload power.