AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology warns the government in pursuing the nuclear energy program as President Duterte has issued Executive Order No. 164 entitled, Adopting a National Position for Nuclear Energy Program. It is concerning that the Executive Order is also pushing for the rehabilitation of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant despite warnings from experts on the hazards it will bring once the plant is allowed to be operated .
AGHAM believes that there are other more viable and environmentally safe energy alternatives as we have vast indigenous resources such as oil, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro, tidal that can provide supply to the local demand.
Instead of reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, we must pursue the construction of a natural gas plant at an immediate time based on the model presented by the Management Association of the Philippines. These domestic energy resources when properly utilized are more than enough to supply our current and future energy needs.
In 2001, the time when the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) was passed into law, the installed capacity was 13,380 MW; it increased by almost 95% with 26,286 MW in 2020 based on the data of the Department of Energy. The dependable capacity for 2020 is 23,410 MW. The peak demand in 2001 was 7,497 MW, it doubled in 2020 by 15,282 MW. This shows that we have enough supply. And yet, despite attaining an increase in the installed and dependable capacity, we still experience power shortages while the cost of electricity remains at an exorbitant rate.
The largest load drop was experienced in Luzon during the long periods of lockdown while there was peak demand load drop by about 40%, from 4,516 megawatts (MW) in the month of March in 2020 then it went down to 4,289 MW in April . Electricity fluctuation is prevalent even before the pandemic with intermittent power outages particularly in the Luzon grid and yet we are reeling from a high rate of electricity, the highest in the region by about $0.20 per KWh . The intermittent power shortage that we have been experiencing is borne from the monopolization of big energy corporations in the absence of a strong government regulation that should ensure efficiency in providing electricity as a public utility.
But the need for stable sources of electricity does not have to be derived from imported fuel and dangerous nuclear energy. It can be addressed by harnessing our indigenous energy resources such as natural gas and other renewable energy sources such as geothermal, hydropower, wind and solar power. In the case of natural gas, it is second to coal as a baseload source of energy.
With the Malampaya gas commercial operation expiring under the Service Contract 38 in February of 2024, there is a clamor for the full development of our natural gas by means of constructing a big natural gas plant. It was also announced by the Department of Energy the list of operational renewable energy projects that would contribute 1,312.9MW coming from thirty-six (36) hydropower facilities (412.8MW), thirty-six (36) biomass schemes with an aggregate capacity (264.8MW), seven (7) wind farms (409.9MW), and six (6) geothermal power plants (218.5MW) .
With the proposed revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant from the Executive Order, we will have to endure the burden of what we experienced when it was constructed and was mothballed during the Marcos regime. The project has been tainted with corruption and there were also concerns on its safety when during the time the Three Mile Island nuclear accident happened, it put to question if the country is well-equipped to handle nuclear disaster.
The construction of the BNPP also made ordinary citizens pay dearly for this project with the taxpayers money for the debt that it has incurred for twenty years while we continue to pay PhP 27 million annually for the maintenance of the plant.
With a power industry that is highly deregulated, the rehabilitation of BNPP will be passed on to the consumers along with other additional costs such as nuclear tax, decommissioning costs, and waste disposal costs and this would translate into an exorbitant cost of electricity.
The government must also take recognition that BNPP is already an obsolete structure and its location is perilous as it was constructed in the slopes of Mt. Natib, an active volcano. The operation of BNPP would also rely on imported uranium resources similar to oil and coal energy, hence we will remain import dependent for our energy supply. It is also a false notion that nuclear energy is environmentally sound that will not exacerbate climate change. According to Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, a visiting geologist for the University of Illinois, Chicago, the uranium, a fuel for the nuclear plant, is not as carbon free and it has 1/3rd as much CO2 per kilowatt as natural gas.
While we are not against nuclear energy, we oppose the government’s promotion of an obsolete technology and dangerous project that would only place the people in danger and further increase our dependency to imported fuels.
As long as EPIRA is enforced, the government remains invaluable in addressing the crisis in the power industry. Hence, it is crucial for the government to nationalize the power industry by abolishing EPIRA, build the necessary indicative capacity additions and develop and upgrade existing power plants. This will be the key in providing accessible, affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for the Filipino people.#
 A. M. F. Lagmay, R. Rodolfo, H. Cabria, J. Soria, P. Zamora, C Abon, C. Lit, M. R. T. Lapus, E. Paguican, M. G. Bato, G. Tiu, E. Obille, N. E. Pellejera, P. C. Francisco, R. N. Eco and J. Aviso, Geological hazards of SW Natib Volcano, site of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, the Philippines, June 13, 2012, National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, the Philippines
 Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Philippines Power Sector Can Reach Resilience by 2021, COVID 19 Reveals Regular Weaknesses and the Need for Improved Incentives and Policies, dated june 2020
 The Philippine government’s new priorities for energy, Oxford Business Group
 Philippines clears 62 PV projects totaling 1.3GW for renewable portfolio standards by Emiliano Bellini dated January 17, 2022, PV Magazine. https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/01/17 /philippines-clears-62-pv-projects-totaling