AboitizPower to explore nuclear technologies in US, Canada

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
AboitizPower to explore nuclear technologies in US, Canada
Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

MANILA, Philippines — Aboitiz Power Corp. plans to expand its understanding of nuclear energy, a power source which the company is keen on introducing to the Philippines.

AboitizPower president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Rubio said they are headed to the US late next month to visit US-based NuScale Power Corp. and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.

NuScale is engaged in developing small modular reactor (SMR) technologies, while Ultra Safe is involved in micro modular reactors.

“The goal of the trip to the US is to understand the technology more, although we’ve met with them a number of times. (It is) to really understand the development process where they really are. I want to see physically what’s there and how it looks like,” Rubio said.

The company also plans to visit Canada by the first quarter of 2024 to meet another provider.

Nuclear power stations in Canada run on CANDU or Canada deuterium uranium reactor technology.

Nuclear energy is seen by AboitizPower as a potential source of reliable and clean baseload power in the country.

It sees nuclear energy playing a vital role in the Philippines’ transition to a cleaner energy mix.

“What’s the next option beyond 2030? We’re looking at nuclear as an option. I think by 2032, 2035, nuclear would now be a viable option then,” Rubio said.

“Today it’s expensive and it’s not an option. And we don’t even have an agreement with the US government. So let this play out. All we’re doing in Aboitiz is really understanding the technology, really understanding who’s the leading developers of SMRs and we have a shortlist,” he said.

Rubio, however, said it is best for the country not to rush things when it comes to nuclear energy technologies and study the experience of other countries first.

“Let them experience the teething issues and once they fix it, then let’s go,” he said.

He said it is also important that the private sector be involved closely in the discussions and development of nuclear energy sector in the county.

The government has already included nuclear in the country’s power mix under the clean energy scenario of the draft Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2023 to 2050.

The PEP’s clean energy scenario considers the entry of nuclear energy, in which 1,200 megawatt (MW) of capacity is eyed by 2032, 2,400 MW by 2035, and 4,800 MW by 2050.

The Department of Energy is supporting the inclusion of nuclear energy, which it said could significantly contribute to diversifying the country’s energy mix if harnessed safely and responsibly.

Rubio said government support would also play a key role in the development of nuclear power industry in the Philippines.

“I wouldn’t call it government guarantee. I would use the word we need government sector in terms of endorsement, in terms of helping for the permitting, stakeholder management, and incentives,” he said.

AboitizPower is expanding its renewable energy portfolio to achieve a 50:50 balance between its renewable and thermal capacities by 2030.

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