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Philippines looking at Chinese investors for cooperation on nuclear energy

By JON VIKTOR D. CABUENAS, GMA Integrated News, January 9, 2023 The Philippines is banking on Chinese investors to participate in the planned venture into nuclear energy, along with cooperation in other areas such as renewable energy, the Department of Energy (DOE) said Monday…………………………………..

The briefing was made after a state visit by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to Beijing, China last week, where Malacañang said he secured $13.76-billion worth of investments in the energy sector.

………………………………… Malacañang last week said the government is set to update its nuclear energy roadmap, with Marcos pushing for its adoption in a bid to lower power rates.

The President, along with his running mate Vice President Sara Duterte, have been pushing for the adoption of nuclear energy, which they said would lower electricity rates and help secure a steady power source.

His predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, last March issued Executive Order 164, directing the conduct of relevant studies for the adoption of a National Position for a Nuclear Energy Program.

The DOE in November said, however, that the Philippines will have to wait a decade to see a working nuclear power plant given the time needed for feasibility studies and other factors.

“At this point we cannot say how fast they (Chinese commitments) will be implemented but the President has committed that he’s going to make sure that there will be a systematic handholding of investors,” Lotilla said……   https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/money/economy/856790/philippines-looking-at-chinese-investors-for-cooperation-on-nuclear-energy/story/

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January 11, 2023 Posted by | Philippines, politics international | Leave a comment

The problem with nuclear energy advocates

There is something curiously bewitching about nuclear power that makes its backers disciples rather than advocates. They become nuclear champions first rather than energy champions (which is what everyone should be), and are either unaware of or intentionally ignoring the fact that most of the time, they are putting their efforts into a solution that is looking for a problem.

ROUGH TRADE, By Ben Kritz, January 10, 2023

 https://www.manilatimes.net/2023/01/10/opinion/columns/the-problem-with-nuclear-energy-advocates/1873611

I WAS asked over the weekend if I planned to respond to a recent letter to the editor (“SMR issues addressed,” published on January 5), which said it was a reaction to my December 29 column about small modular reactor (SMR) technology and the problems that have been encountered in trying to make it commercially practical.

No, I responded, I had not planned to react to the letter because I could not see much in it to actually react to; while polite and thoughtful, it essentially boiled down to the same long-on-enthusiasm and short-on-specifics kind of pitch for SMR technology I see every day.

Maybe that’s exactly the point you need to address, my annoying yet helpful self-appointed consultant suggested.

I realized she’s right; there’s a bigger problem with nuclear energy and its advocates than just the technical and economic details that make it difficult to develop and use. There is something curiously bewitching about nuclear power that makes its backers disciples rather than advocates. They become nuclear champions first rather than energy champions (which is what everyone should be), and are either unaware of or intentionally ignoring the fact that most of the time, they are putting their efforts into a solution that is looking for a problem.

For the record, my December 29 column dealt with two more exotic forms of SMR technology, the traveling wave reactor (TWR) and the Natrium reactor; the basic difference between the two being that the latter uses uranium fuel that is enriched to a concentration that is four or five times what is used in a conventional reactor, and the former is designed to use unenriched or depleted uranium fuel. For a variety of reasons, both of those technologies are at least eight to 10 years from even being functional, and whether or not they can be made economical at all is still an open question.

The discussion about the less extreme and more common form of SMR technology was in the column prior to that, on December 27, and detailed obstacles with the development of commercial-ready SMRs that have been identified through actually trying to build an SMR plant, on the one hand, and a couple of reliable studies by nuclear experts (Stanford University and the Argonne National Laboratory) on the other.

The first obstacle is cost. A plant being constructed in rural Idaho by SMR developer NuScale — which is designed to eventually consist of six 77-megawatt units — has run into massive cost overruns, despite the assumption that SMRs are relatively inexpensive due to being smaller and simpler than conventional nuclear plants. NuScale is hoping to have the first of the six units online by 2029, but the per-megawatt-hour cost of the plant has hit $58, the threshold set by the consortium of six utilities in the western US which are financing the project to decide whether or not to continue.

The reason for this is that at that cost, there are already a variety of conventional and renewable energy generation sources available, so there is nothing to be gained by building the SMR complex, no matter how cutting-edge its technology may be.

The second obstacle is waste management. Again, because SMRs are smaller and less complex than conventional nuclear power plants, it is assumed that they would produce less radioactive waste, both of the more dangerous high-level variety in the form of spent fuel and the low-level variety in the form of wastewater and contaminated discarded equipment and other materials. 

This, however, is not the case, according to the Stanford and Argonne studies, both published last year. Both studies found the same result, that SMRs produce about as much waste as conventional light-water reactors, but differed in their subjective interpretation. The Stanford researchers concluded that this contraindicated the use of SMRs since they do not offer any improvement in waste management, while Argonne’s lead scientist suggested that the result was more positive, as it demonstrated using SMRs wouldn’t be any worse than conventional nuclear power.

Contrary to our recent reader-correspondent’s assertions, neither of those issues — the only two I focused on concerning SMRs, because they are not hypothetical, but demonstrated by real-world experience or analysis — are “addressed” at all by what he presented, which is “a unique approach to SMRs” being developed by an unnamed enterprise only identified as being Seattle-based. The design, according to him, uses “widely available, cheap low-enriched uranium” (as I have pointed out more than once, except for reactors running on exotic fuel like the Natrium, fuel is actually the least of the cost issues for a nuclear plant);  do not need to be refueled (are they then considered disposable?); and “are safe enough that their ‘plug-and-play’ generators can be placed anywhere with little infrastructure investment and without any special security.”

As for the application of this mysterious miracle technology in the Philippines, the company in question is “confident that they can satisfy all the requirements of the Philippine government regulators, the power companies and the public. They could even achieve the objective of having the current president preside over the ribbon-cutting ceremony before he leaves office.”

First of all, if the developer of this game-changing technology has created something that is ready enough that they are actively seeking a foothold in the Philippine market, one would think that they would be willing, even eager, to be clearly identified. I suspect I know who it is, and if I’m right, I’m going to be very disappointed because then this sly press release in the form of a letter to the editor (and yes, that’s exactly what it is; I get three or four press releases a day from different companies or trade publications that sound exactly like this) doesn’t even begin to answer questions that have already been raised about this specific company’s technology.

Second, even if this is just a standard-design SMR, we already know that a commercial version in its own country of origin will not be operational by the time President Marcos steps down, let alone be available to the Philippines. Local requirements might indeed be satisfied, but before that can even happen, the hoops that both US and Philippine stakeholders will have to jump through in order to secure export authorization from the US government — with the resulting agreement also needing approval from the Philippine Senate, the sort of thing it never acts quickly on — will take a couple of years at a minimum.

The Philippines could use nuclear energy, and it’s rational not to completely discount the future possibility of its doing so, provided a very long list of conditions are satisfactorily met. But it is in no position to serve as a test site for novel ideas that have been clearly demonstrated to be years from being a viable, let alone a practical, best option. Trying to mislead the public into believing that a magical solution is available for the asking — proselytizing for nuclear energy, rather than seeking actual attainable solutions for the country’s rather more immediate energy problems — is going to achieve very little, except to disappoint people and ensure this won’t be a market for whatever you’re selling.

January 9, 2023 Posted by | Philippines, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

USA trying to use Philippines as a guinea pig for its unviable small nuclear reactors – and for military purposes.

“With recent plans by the US Department of Defense to build an advanced mobile nuclear microreactor prototype in Idaho, Manila should not allow Washington to use Philippine military bases as prototype areas for these reactors.

Save the country from the perils of nuclear reactors, NAKED THOUGHT

https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/12/03/opinion/columns/save-the-country-from-the-perils-of-nuclear-reactors/1868797

By Charlie V. Manalo, December 3, 2022

AS the United States government, invoking provisions of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), requests for additional military bases, five on the island of Luzon alone, the idea of the country playing host to mobile nuclear reactors is not far-fetched.

This is for the simple reason that whoever crafted the agreement made it so vague, it did not provide for any restrictions on the type of facilities and materials the US would be using in constructing its bases in the Philippines.

And this has been aggravated further by the enactment of the Public Service Law which opens the country’s airports to foreign ownership, giving the US all the resources needed to construct its own airports which it could use as military bases under the guise of a commercial airport.

Anyway, former congressman Terry Ridon, convenor of Infrawatch Philippines, sent me a copy of an article he wrote on the subject, explaining clearly its implications. It’s entitled, “Reject mobile nuclear reactors in PH bases-Infrawatch Philippines,” which I’m publishing in its entirety.

“With recent plans by the US Department of Defense to build an advanced mobile nuclear microreactor prototype in Idaho, Manila should not allow Washington to use Philippine military bases as prototype areas for these reactors.

According to an April report by The Associated Press, the US DoD ‘signed off on the Project Pele plan to build the reactor and reactor fuel outside of Idaho and then assemble and operate the reactor at the lab.’

As this is a project initiated by the US defense department, its military objectives had been disclosed by Jeff Waksman, project manager for Project Pele, saying, “Advanced nuclear power has the potential to be a strategic game-changer for the United States, both for the (Department of Defense) and for the commercial sector.”

The US DoD further said that the reactor designs are ‘high-temperature gas-cooled reactors using enriched uranium for fuel.’

PH microreactor deployment

Under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, there are no restrictions to Washington on the type of facilities and materials it will construct and install in Philippine military bases, except a specific restriction against installing nuclear weapons.

However, Philippine authorities should be reminded that this restriction does not assuage fears that the country will not be involved in regional military conflicts because EDCA allows the installation of conventional military weapons which may approximate the breadth and fatal impact of nuclear weapons.

More importantly, in the event that nuclear microreactors are produced by the US DoD at scale, these small nuclear plants can, in fact, be installed in EDCA locations in different parts of the country.

This is alarming because the country has yet to decide and implement its national policy on nuclear development based on the policy direction of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In fact, it needs to be made clear that nuclear microreactors in EDCA locations in the country will not be used for civilian purposes but for military objectives by the United States in the Indo-Pacific.

This distinction alone should give the current government pause on allowing nuclear microreactors to be deployed in EDCA locations in the future.

More importantly, military nuclear microreactors will allow Washington to deploy different kinds of weapons to influence the security arrangement in the South China Sea and the greater Indo-Pacific.

Military purposes

Further, as nuclear microreactors in EDCA areas will certainly be used for military purposes, this might prompt other regional actors to accuse Manila of violating the Bangkok Treaty, the treaty declaring Southeast Asia as a nuclear weapons-free zone and other weapons of mass destruction.

With a military nuclear microreactor in Philippine soil, Washington may be able to operate high-powered conventional military weapons which may be equivalent to weapons of mass destruction.

Certainly, Manila should follow its treaty obligations in the region, particularly as other strong powers are also looking at Manila to temper its pivot toward Washington.

Finally, allowing this kind of deployment in EDCA areas diminishes the current call of President Marcos to carefully proceed with nuclear research and development for civilian purposes.

The focus of the government should be considering whether nuclear energy should be part of the current energy mix and whether the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant should be revived.

It should also consider developing other aspects of nuclear technology, which can benefit health care and other critically important sectors.

As such, allowing nuclear microreactors in EDCA areas or anywhere in the Philippines should not be on the agenda.”

December 2, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Lawmaker says Filipinos will be ‘guinea pigs’ in nuclear pact with US

ABS-CBN News Nov 24 2022

MANILA — House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro is against negotiations for a civilian nuclear pact between the United States and the Philippines, saying it poses threat to the health and safety of Filipinos.

According to the ACT Teachers party-list representative, the Filipinos will become “guinea pigs” in this nuclear energy cooperation deal known as “123 agreement”.

The pact, among initiatives announced during US Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent trip to the Philippines, can lead to the future sale of US nuclear reactors to Manila.

“The US and the Philippines agreed to have a… testing of what we call the nuclear equipment here in the Philippines,” Castro told ANC’s “Headstart” Thursday.

“So, we are being made as guinea pigs in this experiment. This would affect our health, of course, our safety and the environment,” she added.

The Makabayan bloc, led by Castro, has filed House Resolution 582 to investigate the “123 agreement”.

The group said modular or microreactor nuclear power plants are still at an experimental stage and are only legally being made in US bases…………………… https://news.abs-cbn.com/video/news/11/24/22/filipinos-will-be-guinea-pigs-in-nuclear-pact-with-us-solon

November 24, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Philippines to be America’s nuclear guinea-pig for experimental small modular nuclear reactors?

Philippines’ Makabayan bloc files resolution seeking to probe US-Philippines nuclear energy deal By CNN Philippines Staff.Nov 23, 2022,

 The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives has filed a resolution seeking to investigate the nuclear energy cooperation deal announced by United States Vice President Kamala Harris, citing threats to the health and safety of Filipinos and the environment.

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Danniel Manuel warned that Filipinos may be used as “guinea pigs” for testing nuclear equipment.

Ang mahirap dito baka tayong mga mamamayang Pilipino ang ma-1-2-3 at maging mga guinea pig ng teknolohiyang ito na tine-testing pa lang ng US,” Castro said in a statement.

[Translation: The problem here is that Filipinos may be duped and served as guinea pigs for a technology still being tested by the US.]

According to the White House fact sheet released on Monday, the 123 Agreement, or the nuclear energy cooperation deal, will provide the legal basis for US exports of nuclear equipment and material to the Philippines.

The 123 Agreement also aims to support expanded partnerships on zero-emission energy and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

According to Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Marcos administration is considering bringing in US-developed small modular reactors to the country.

“As it is, modular or microreactor nuclear power plants are still at an experimental stage and are only legally being made in US bases. Early this year, the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office announced the construction and testing decision that followed the office’s Environmental Impact Statement work for Project Pele,” Castro said………….more https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2022/11/23/Makabayan-bloc-US-PH-nuclear-energy-deal-probe.html

November 22, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, politics international, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Nuclear power not a realistic option for the Philippines, given the seismic and other disaster risks

“Just last month, we saw the impacts of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake (which) should serve as a warning. Exposure to unpredictable seismic events should make us think twice about having a nuclear power plant,” he said.

Nuclear power, Mr. Arances said, is not a solution to the climate and energy crises, adding that it does not guarantee lower electricity prices.

Safety regulations seen as ‘first step’ in nuclear power shift,  https://www.bworldonline.com/economy/2022/08/21/469667/safety-regulations-seen-as-first-step-in-nuclear-power-shift/ By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, Reporter

THE Philippines is running late with its regulatory preparations for a safe nuclear power transition, the head of the Senate energy committee said.

Senator Rafael T. Tulfo said a law is needed to lay down standards for the incorporation of nuclear power companies, the construction of power plants, and the their operation.

“We have not even made a first step and we’re overdue,” he told BusinessWorld in a Viber message. Safety standards are needed because the Philippines sits astride an area of high tectonic activity, he said, adding that disaster response capacity must be developed should anything go wrong with such plants.

According to the World Bank, the Philippines is vulnerable to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, and floods, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

“In regulating the nuclear energy sector, there must be stringent standards as to the minimum standards for facilities, minimum qualifications for the persons or entities operating it, considerations as to where and how to acquire nuclear material, contingencies in case of emergency scenarios, proper standards on nuclear fuel disposal, limitations on foreign influence in the nuclear industry, and how the LGU where the plant is situated should gain a just and equitable share of the plant’s profits,” he said.

Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development Executive Director Gerry Arances told BusinessWorld in an e-mail that it would take years to create a policy framework thorough enough to take into account all safety, environmental, and electricity price risks, and years more to build nuclear facilities.

“Even small modular reactors would take about three to five years to construct. That means nuclear energy cannot provide immediate solutions to today’s energy crisis. In that span of time, renewable energy facilities could already have been deployed,” he said. 

Nuclear power, Mr. Arances said, is not a solution to the climate and energy crises, adding that it does not guarantee lower electricity prices.

“The price of fuel for nuclear energy like plutonium and uranium, neither of which can be sourced domestically, will put Filipino consumers at the mercy of global market prices and vulnerable to shocks,” he said. “We are already seeing this today with fossil fuel volatilities triggered by the Ukraine-Russia war.”

“In developing nuclear power, the Philippines will devote time and energy to figuring out where we can source nuclear fuel, how we will manage nuclear waste, and how we can prevent the possibility of our country turning into the next Fukushima or Chernobyl,” he added.

Even then, he said there is no assurance of eliminating the risk of nuclear accidents, given the country’s geographic location and the intensifying climate crisis.

“Just last month, we saw the impacts of a 7.1 magnitude earthquake (which) should serve as a warning. Exposure to unpredictable seismic events should make us think twice about having a nuclear power plant,” he said.

There were 10 deaths from the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck the northern Philippines, with more 300,000 people from about 82,000 families affected, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The earthquake also damaged more than 21,000 houses, 302 of which were destroyed, the agency said. Damage to infrastructure was about P414 million in the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Administrative Region.

Mr. Arances said time and effort should instead be channeled to effecting a 100% transition to genuinely sustainable and safe renewable energy.

“We have an abundant supply of renewable energy just waiting to be developed at an increasingly affordable cost — case in point are the winning bidders of the GEA Reserve prices, of whom the lowest bid is P3.4 per kilowatt hour from solar,” he said.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, safety | Leave a comment

Church stands against nuclear power in the Philippines

JUCA News, July 04, 2022

Renewable generation must double in the next few years if we are to save the nation from an economic meltdown

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga has spoken out against the revival of the Bataan nuclear power plant saying it would be a great danger to the people and the environment. The Philippine bishops’ conference stands against nuclear power also.

“The voice of our people is strongly, openly no,” he said. Bishop Santos claimed the danger would be greater than any possible benefit. The danger “heavily outweighs its benefits,” he told Radyo Veritas on June 3.

The bishop was reacting to news reports that the Philippines’ new president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to revive the nuclear power plant built by his father — the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

When former president Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order that allowed nuclear power plants to be considered as a source of electricity generation, a wave of concern swept through the minds and hearts of the security, environmental, medical, and renewable energy thinking community……………………

“The Diocese of Balanga has decided… [we] are against this [move] and this stand will not change.”

The gray-haired veterans of the anti-Bataan Nuclear Power Plant campaigns, such as famous campaigner Professor Roland Simbulan of Nuclear Free Philippines, will recall the hundreds of millions of dollars that were siphoned off the deal into the private accounts of Marcos cronies.

Had the nuclear plant been operational, the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption and the many earthquakes would have likely caused a nuclear disaster.  The real possibility of a nuclear accident is what rightly scares millions of people away from nuclear power as a source of electricity when there are many alternatives of renewable energy available.

Solar and wind farms, hydro dams, geothermal, and biomass are all available and at much lower cost in comparison to nuclear energy, coal, oil and gas imports.

According to a report by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), the few existing renewable energy (RE) projects, especially solar and wind power have already saved the Philippines 4.04 billion pesos (about US$73 million).

Besides, renewable energy sources of electricity are free, thanks to nature. The wind blows, the sun shines and volcanic heat is always present for geothermal plants and delivered by nature without cost. They just need more investment and harnessing and they pose no danger………………………………………………………

The greatest challenge is the safe disposal of the deadly contaminated nuclear waste, which will last for thousands of years. The Philippine Department of Energy consultant proposes burying it on a remote island. For sure, the contamination will leech into the ocean and poison sea life and those who eat fish.

Pope Francis has encouraged everyone to use alternative ways to protect the environment and nuclear power is not one of them.

The future of the planet and humans is to stop burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, and stop global warming and accelerate the building of renewable energy projects……………   https://www.ucanews.com/news/church-stands-against-nuclear-power-in-the-philippines/97889

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Reactivating Nuclear Power Plant Near Volcano a Bad Idea, Geologists Say

. NewsWeek, BY JESSICA THOMSON ON 6/20/22  Plans to reactivate a nuclear power plant near the capital city of the Philippines have been criticized by scientists over its proximity to a potentially active volcano.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is located in the foothills of Mount Natib, only five miles from the caldera, and was built in the 1980s. It was never activated due to anti-nuclear sentiment in the aftermath of the Chernobyl power plant disaster in 1986, with protests expressing concerns that the BNPP was in an earthquake zone thanks to the volcano’s Lubao fault, which runs through the volcano and the power plant…………………………………. https://www.newsweek.com/philippines-volcano-nuclear-power-plant-1717406

June 21, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, safety | Leave a comment

 President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to confirm Duterte’s executiveorder to include nuclear power

 President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to confirm Duterte’s executive
order to include nuclear power in the country’s energy mix. The first step
could be repurposing a plant already built under Marcos Sr by US company
Westinghouse in the early eighties not far from the capital, but which was
never fuelled. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines’ energy costs are
second only to Singapore’s.

 Asia News 18th June 2022

https://www.asianews.it/news-en/Manila-to-reboot-the-Bataan-Nuclear-Power-Plant-56065.html

June 20, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, politics | Leave a comment

Philippines’ Marcos in nuclear plant revival talks with S.Korea

  France 24 Manila (AFP) – Philippine president-elect Ferdinand Marcos signalled his determination to adopt nuclear power Monday, holding talks with South Korea’s envoy on possibly reviving a mothballed $2.2 billion plant built during his father’s dictatorship.

The 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was left dormant after the elder Marcos was toppled in 1986…..

He left open the possibility of resuscitating his father’s failed venture — an idea he is now pushing ahead of his June 30 inauguration.

Marcos said he met South Korean Ambassador to Manila Kim Inchul on Monday to discuss a proposal on reviving the Bataan plant.

…………………….  

upgrading an ageing facility fitted with outdated analogue technology could take at least four years and cost another $1 billion.

There are also question marks on its design and location.

A monument to the greed and graft of the elder Marcos’s era, the plant sits 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Manila, near several volcanoes in a part of the Philippines regularly shaken by earthquakes…………….  critics argue that renewable sources, such as wind and solar, are cheaper and safer to produce in a country hit by earthquakes, typhoons and volcanic eruptions.   https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220523-philippines-marcos-in-nuclear-plant-revival-talks-with-s-korea

May 26, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, politics | Leave a comment

Greenpeace: Nuclear power is not the solution to Philippines’ energy woes

Greenpeace: Nuclear power is not the solution to PH’s energy woes,   https://opinion.inquirer.net/151278/greenpeace-nuclear-power-is-not-the-solution-to-phs-energy-woes

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:05 AM March 22, 2022

We are writing to respond to Solita Monsod’s two recent columns on nuclear power and the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). We believe these columns glossed over several important facts that the nuclear industry also wants to hide from the public eye.

First, nuclear power is not cheap. Costs for radioactive nuclear waste management and storage, decommissioning, and insurance, need to be factored in. Monsod compares nuclear prices to coal and oil, but recent reports by the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency have already confirmed that renewable energy (RE), primarily from solar and wind, is now the cheapest source of electricity by far. Rehabilitating the BNPP won’t be cheap either. Monsod makes a price comparison with new nuclear plants (which are prohibitively expensive) but neglects to make a comparison with RE, whose capital costs are a lot less than that of upgrading the BNPP.

We are writing to respond to Solita Monsod’s two recent columns on nuclear power and the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). We believe these columns glossed over several important facts that the nuclear industry also wants to hide from the public eye.

First, nuclear power is not cheap. Costs for radioactive nuclear waste management and storage, decommissioning, and insurance, need to be factored in. Monsod compares nuclear prices to coal and oil, but recent reports by the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency have already confirmed that renewable energy (RE), primarily from solar and wind, is now the cheapest source of electricity by far. Rehabilitating the BNPP won’t be cheap either. Monsod makes a price comparison with new nuclear plants (which are prohibitively expensive) but neglects to make a comparison with RE, whose capital costs are a lot less than that of upgrading the BNPP.

There are also hidden costs, such as the costs to health and livelihoods of communities living in the vicinity of these plants, as well as the costs all Filipinos will pay to maintain a regulatory agency. But the biggest hidden cost is the price of a nuclear accident. This cost runs in the trillions of pesos and will affect generations of Filipinos. Neither the nuclear industry nor the government has mentioned anything about how these costs will be paid for should this happen.

Second, nuclear power will not solve our power woes or give us energy security. We still need to import radioactive fuel, so we will be hostage to the price volatility of this commodity. Nuclear proponents also never mention that fuel production is almost a monopoly, dominated by only four companies. This arrangement will lock us into dependence on foreign fuel and companies, where any shortage or increase in demand globally would mean Filipinos will be faced with rising energy costs that the government can’t control.

Third, the BNPP has not been confirmed by any independent study to be safe for operation, and “small modular nuclear reactors” for power generation don’t exist. All the studies so far conducted that have called the BNPP “safe” were undertaken by bodies connected with the industry, and therefore would not be subjective in their assessment. On the other hand, a safety inquiry conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists found more than 4,000 technical defects in the plant. Meanwhile, small modular reactors being promoted by nuclear companies or agencies of Russia and the US are still currently being studied. Should the Philippines take this route, we will be among the first guinea pigs of this human experiment.


Fourth, we’ve never heard anything about permanent storage for radioactive spent fuel from nuclear promoters. The cost for constructing and maintaining this facility will likely be in the trillions of pesos, to be paid for by all Filipinos, not just nuclear power customers. But will the government find a safe place for this deadly waste in the archipelagic and volcanic Philippines? And will there be a local government unit that would willingly accept it? The problem of dealing with nuclear waste is the toxic burden we will leave today’s youth and their children, for them to additionally deal with, alongside climate impacts.

The debt we incurred because of BNPP was gargantuan. It was unfortunate that we paid for what was, in reality, the price of bad energy planning railroaded by a government that was blinded by the false glitter of nuclear power—and the kickbacks an expensive power project would bring. Will we let history repeat itself?

Monsod’s hinayang is for the past—sayang the money we paid for it, she says. It’s true we can’t get it back. But we can prevent Flipinos from bearing the same oppressive burden again. We have the opportunity to harness the cheapest power sources in the world—RE in the form of solar and wind—and redesign our energy system into flexible decentralized grids that are infinitely more efficient than the outdated centralized models reliant on inflexible baseload plants, such as nuclear. This kind of energy planning is smart, and game-changing, and is the real solution to the climate crisis. Mas malaking hinayang if we don’t take this opportunity to transform our energy system now, and create a better energy future for ourselves.

Khevin Yu,

energy transition campaigner

Greenpeace Philippines

khevin.yu@greenpeace.org

March 22, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Philippines, politics | Leave a comment

US to help Philippines develop nuclear power program; groups push renewable energy instead


US to help Philippines develop nuclear power program; groups push renewable energy instead

Angelica Y. Yang – Philstar.com

March 14, 2022 MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding last week to work together to develop the Philippines’ nuclear power program.

The MOU was signed by Energy Undersecretary Gerardo Erguiza and US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins………….

The EO, which was signed on February 28, instructs the DOE to develop and implement the nuclear energy program under the Philippine Energy Plan, a comprehensive energy blueprint which details the energy sector’s goals in achieving a clean energy future. 

Duterte said in the EO that nuclear power is a “viable alternative source” of baseload power that can bridge the gap between rising demand and supply. 

The EO also instructed an interagency body — the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee —to study the possible use of the $2.2-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which was mothballed and never refueled.

Public policy think tank InfraWatch PH earlier told Philstar.com that Duterte’s EO comes a little too late as he has only a few months left in his term. This leaves the fate of his nuclear push to his successor who may choose to adopt or reverse the new energy policy. 

‘Nuclear will not solve climate crisis’

Manila-based climate and energy policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities said that, contrary to the government’s claims, nuclear is no better than coal.

“Nuclear is even worse than coal for energy security and self-sufficiency. It has always been plagued with protracted construction timelines and gargantuan costs that require constant massive subsidies,” ICSC Executive Director Red Constantino told Philstar.com over email on Monday.

“[Nuclear] can only operate on a single level and cannot be ramped up or down. It is extremely rigid and completely unfit to respond to the country’s load profile,” he said. 

Constantino said the DOE should take its power sector modernization goals more seriously and prioritize flexible generation by ramping up support for renewable energy.

Last week, activists from environmental group Greenpeace Philippines marched to the DOE and called the push for nuclear power a “questionable energy policy which is the last thing the country needs.”

The protest took place on March 11 during the commemoration of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, which killed at least 20,000 people, contaminated 240,000 square kilometers of land and caused $235 billion (around P12 trillion) of damage. 

“Greenpeace…maintains that nuclear power will not solve the climate crisis. The entire nuclear power plant life cycle contributes significantly to climate change, and these facilities take an average of 10 years to build,” the group said in a statement. 

Citing findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Greenpeace said humanity only has until 2030 to keep the global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

“Setting up the country’s nuclear program and building a plant will take decades. Meanwhile, Filipinos will continue to suffer from climate impacts,” it said.

nstead of focusing on a nuclear policy, the current administration should have instead doubled its efforts to ensure that renewable energy “gets a better foothold” in the country’s energy future, according to Greenpeace Campaigner Khevin Yu.  https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2022/03/14/2167242/us-help-philippines-develop-nuclear-power-program-groups-push-renewable-energy-instead

March 15, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, politics international | Leave a comment

Philippines: the case against coal, other fossil fuels and nuclear power

Building a nuclear power plant will only further burden Filipino consumers economically and expose the country and citizens to more health hazards, contamination and disaster risks.Nuclear energy is the most expensive and most dangerous source of electricity. Contrary to others’ expectations, nuclear will actually cost us so much: fuel, expertise and technologies all have to be imported overseas. That’s aside from the huge costs of dealing with the safety risks and disasters associated with nuclear power plants.

 By Ludwig Federigan, Manila Times, February 12, 2022, The author is the executive director of the Young Environmental Forum and a nonresident fellow of the Stratbase ADR Institute. He ranks 236th among global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) influencers, according to the Taking Action Online. You can email him at ludwig.federigan@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @WiggyFederigan

GROWTH is difficult to imagine without energy and energy that does not take the needs of future generations into consideration can only destroy and not build………The Philippines has enough renewable resources to meet its power needs but some are unevenly distributed.

Some locations may not be as well-endowed. Geographic features, such as mountains, may cause clouds to appear more often and block sunlight. Others may disrupt wind flows, making it harder to generate electricity from the wind.The solution in such cases is to import power from nearby areas better endowed with renewable sources.

 Given that we can be self-sufficient in renewable electricity nationwide, less endowed areas should not have to look too far to source electricity. This is no different from what we do today when we construct hundred-megawatt and gigawatt-level power plants — these are so widely-spaced apart that they have to export their output to distant  locations, too.

Delivering electricity to localities in need requires transmission and distribution lines. Thus, even where renewables make it possible for more households and communities to consume electricity at the point it is generated, we still need transmission infrastructure to support less endowed localities.The importance given to baseload plants — plants that provide a steady output 24/7 — is an outdated idea. It was useful in the past when renewables were very expensive but is less so today in an era of cheap renewables. It is possible to cope with the variable output of solar panels and wind turbines in the same way that banks cope with the inherent unpredictability of deposits and withdrawals.

The claim that renewable electricity is too expensive to compete with fossil fuels might have been valid a few years ago. It is not so true today. Various case studies have already shown how rooftop solar is cheaper than grid electricity in most parts of the country. Of course, if consumers still think otherwise, then the market for renewables will remain  sluggish.

What is needed at this point is for the policymakers, academics, media and the public to be better informed about the state of prices. This is something that can be done by suppliers and the government. Unfortunately, too many  policymakers, academics and media people still think that “solar is expensive.”

………………The government must do more to support renewable energy (RE). When people say RE is expensive, it’s in large part because it takes so many permits and many years to develop a project in the country. Many of the steps are unnecessary and sometimes are subject to discretion and abuse of public officials. If we cut this red tape, it will decrease the cost and risks of development, allow more local and foreign companies to compete, and reduce costs  for all consumers.

On nuclear power

Building a nuclear power plant will only further burden Filipino consumers economically and expose the country and citizens to more health hazards, contamination and disaster risks.Nuclear energy is the most expensive and most dangerous source of electricity. Contrary to others’ expectations, nuclear will actually cost us so much: fuel, expertise and technologies all have to be imported overseas. That’s aside from the huge costs of dealing with the safety risks and disasters associated with nuclear power plants.

The uranium needed to fuel a nuclear facility will have to be imported as deposits do not exist in the country. Not only will this reduce the country’s energy independence, it will also render the price we pay for power dependent on changes in world uranium prices. Transportation of the fuel is also another cost that has to be shouldered. The costs of building, operating and eventually decommissioning nuclear plants are also much more higher than renewables.Nuclear energy is not clean or truly renewable. While atomic energy can be regenerated, substances such as uranium are finite resources. These materials are also mined, just like fossil fuels, and need further processing before they are  usable. The processing also poses risks for the environment and is likely to contribute to greenhouse gas emissions  rather than mitigate them, as is often claimed by nuclear power proponents…………..

The risk and costs of environmental destruction and the impacts on health and livelihoods outweigh any short-term perceived benefits from nuclear. The government must instead focus on achieving ambitious RE targets and aim for  100-percent RE power generation. We should stop wasting time, money and effort on pursuing nuclear energy, which is a losing proposition for consumers, the economy, and our health and safety. https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/02/12/business/green-industries/the-case-against-coal-other-fossil-fuels-and-nuclear-power/1832623.

February 12, 2022 Posted by | Philippines, politics | 1 Comment

AUKUS and the Philippines – sleepwalking into military-nuclear entanglements

From peaceful, nuclear-free Asean to battle-ready Indo-Pacific? Manila Times, By Dan Steinbock, October 18, 2021As the Duterte era is gradually ending, new arms races and nuclear proliferation cast a dark shadow over Southeast Asia. The Philippines may be sleepwalking into military-nuclear entanglements.

ACCORDING to the new trilateral security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (Aukus), Washington and London will “help” Canberra to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

The highly controversial $66-billion deal is expected to trigger arms races and nuclear proliferation in Asia. It violates the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ, 1995), effective since 1997. It would seem to violate the Philippine Constitution. And it is strongly opposed by China.

Yet, right after the Aukus, when Asean began to build consensus on the nuclear pact, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomed the pact.

PH policies, Asean concerns

According to Locsin, the Philippines “welcomes Australia’s decision to establish” the Aukus. And he added: “Asean member states, singly and collectively, do not possess the military wherewithal to maintain peace and security in Southeast Asia.”

According to this logic, Asean is irrelevant in matters of regional peace and security and therefore each Asean should align with one or another major military power, irrespective of collective consequences.

Such logic shuns and could derail, inadvertently or purposefully, the ongoing work by the Asean and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea by 2022. Most importantly, the logic opens the door to the nuclearization of the region at the expense of the SEANWFZ treaty and the aspirations of the Asean community. That’s why Malaysia’s veteran statesman Mahathir Mohamad blasted the Aukus statement: “You have escalated the threat.”

The first reaction of both Malaysia and Indonesia was to warn of an impending arms race unleashed by such a pact. Australia’s nuclear decision prompted the Indonesian foreign ministry’s official note that it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region.” So, why did Locsin choose to break ranks with the Asean?

ADRi: China the issue of 2022

The plan to drag the Philippines into the Indo-Pacific containment front against China seems to have evolved in the mid-2010s, but fell apart with the Duterte election triumph and the meltdown of the Liberal Party.

To avoid a déjà vu, former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario recently called on the Philippines to choose a leader who will reverse President Rodrigo Duterte‘s policy of “loving and embracing” China after the “’22 polls.”

In this quest, a key supportive role belongs to the Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi), embedded with US business and national security interests. Through its board members and executives, Rosario’s ADRi is joined with its parent, Stratbase, an “advisory and research consultancy,” and Bower Group Asia led by Ernest Z. Bower 4th. Stratbase is the Philippine partner of Bower Group Asia.

Until the 2000s, Bower led the US-Asean Business Council. He is an ADRi board member and Southeast Asia advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a leading US think-tank close to the State Department, Pentagon, defense contractors and Wall Street.

The maritime dispute with China, said ADRi’s president Victor Manhit, is what “we will make an issue in the 2022 elections.” Due to interlocking leaderships, Manhit himself heads Stratbase and Bower Asia Group‘s Philippine branch.

The goals go back to the Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd government (2010 to 2016).


As the Duterte era is gradually ending, new arms races and nuclear proliferation cast a dark shadow over Southeast Asia. The Philippines may be sleepwalking into military-nuclear entanglements.

ACCORDING to the new trilateral security pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (Aukus), Washington and London will “help” Canberra to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

The highly controversial $66-billion deal is expected to trigger arms races and nuclear proliferation in Asia. It violates the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ, 1995), effective since 1997. It would seem to violate the Philippine Constitution. And it is strongly opposed by China.

Yet, right after the Aukus, when Asean began to build consensus on the nuclear pact, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomed the pact.

Such logic shuns and could derail, inadvertently or purposefully, the ongoing work by the Asean and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea by 2022. Most importantly, the logic opens the door to the nuclearization of the region at the expense of the SEANWFZ treaty and the aspirations of the Asean community. That’s why Malaysia’s veteran statesman Mahathir Mohamad blasted the Aukus statement: “You have escalated the threat.”

The first reaction of both Malaysia and Indonesia was to warn of an impending arms race unleashed by such a pact. Australia’s nuclear decision prompted the Indonesian foreign ministry’s official note that it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region.” So, why did Locsin choose to break ranks with the Asean?…………..

Conflicts of interest, military entanglements…………..

…….. the Aukus pact does contribute to the ongoing arms races in Southeast Asia. It will foster nuclear proliferation in the region. It violates the goals of the nuclear-free Southeast Asia treaty. It is not in line with the Philippine Constitution.

President Duterte has pledged to end the bilateral military deal with Washington if US nuclear weapons are found in the Philippines. But his term will end by next summer.

Obviously, Australia, the US and UK seek to calm Asean members, arguing that nuclear weapons are not really for military purposes. But since 1945, assurances have not been reliable in nuclear matters. During the Cold War, US nuclear warheads were secretly stockpiled in the Philippines. Moreover, in the 1965 Philippine Sea A-4 crash, a US Skyhawk attack aircraft fell into the sea off Japan. Coming from the US Naval Base in Subic Bay, it was carrying a nuclear weapon with 80 times the blast power of the Hiroshima explosion.

It wasn’t until 1989 that the Pentagon disclosed the loss of the 1-megaton hydrogen bomb.

New policy? Two policies? No policy?

Today, the destructive power of these weapons is far greater, as stressed by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). In January, the Philippines ratified the ICAN’s legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). On May 19, Locsin stated that the Philippines welcomes the Aukus nuclear pact.

Only two days later, Locsin reaffirmed the Philippines’ “principled policy and commitment toward the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons as enshrined in the relevant provisions of the Philippine Constitution and the Treaty.”

The Philippines’ principled policy is crystal clear: The country definitely welcomes nuclear proliferation in Southeast Asia. And the country is absolutely committed against nuclear-free Southeast Asia. Where will that “principled policy and commitment” take us after the 2022 election?

https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/10/18/opinion/columns/from-peaceful-nuclear-free-asean-to-battle-ready-indo-pacific/1818773


October 18, 2021 Posted by | Philippines, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

An expert explains that the Philippines’ nuclear power plant would be OK, but solar power would be faster and better.


Instead of nuclear power, why not solar power?  
https://opinion.inquirer.net/143165/instead-of-nuclear-power-why-not-solar-power Philippine Daily Inquirer  August 17, 2021,   Last July 8, Peter Wallace wrote in his column about nuclear power plants being safe and that there are many countries operating their nuclear power plants safely over the last 50 years: the United States, Germany, Taiwan, Japan. etc.

I agree about recommissioning the Bataan nuclear plant. As a chemical engineer, I can say that we have enough controls to operate it safely.

However, reviving the Bataan plant will take at least five years. Why not recommend the use of solar panels instead, per Republic Act No. 11285 or the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, which requires building owners to use renewable sources like solar? The Philippines is the only country in the world with 2,000 hours of sun per year.

Germany went on to use solar panel systems on roofs and, in a short period of time, four million houses have been generating power, resulting in the shutdown of many coal plants. In the United States, New York appointed an energy czar to speed up the use of renewable energy.

Australia gives incentives to households that use solar batteries. lberdrola Spain has made tremendous progress on the use of renewable energy, becoming one of the top five electric utility companies in the world. Portugal and Spain have invested in photovoltaic battery storage systems.

August 17, 2021 Posted by | Philippines, renewable | Leave a comment