DOE should consider nuclear power — expert
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy (DOE) should make up its mind fast on whether to include nuclear power in the country’s energy mix in view of looming depletion of the Malampaya natural gas field by 2024, the Philippine nuclear science chief said.

Carlo Arcilla, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI), said the matter should be given urgency as the resources at Malampaya are continuously being exhausted, and no new drilling is being done in the West Philippine Sea due to the ongoing territorial dispute with China.

“They have yet to come out with a national position on nuclear energy. It has been on their desk for more than two years,” Arcilla said in his presentation on nuclear power at the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) and Chamber of Mines of the Philippines lecture series last Friday at the Marco Polo Hotel Ortigas.

“Ang DOE, hindi mo sila maintindihan eh (The DOE, you can’t understand them),” Arcilla lamented.

Safety concerns have prevented the country from tapping nuclear power for its energy needs.

Arcilla said several years are needed for preparations on the direction DOE takes on energy policy, with the deadline made more imminent because of the expected depletion of the Malampaya gas project that supplies fuel to around 40 percent of gas-fired plants in Luzon: the Ilijan, Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo, San Gabriel and Avion plants, which supply 3,211 megawatts to the grid.

“We should have something in place to replace the power supply that will be lost when Malampaya runs out,” he said.

Arcilla warned that the current solution being offered by the DOE – the importation of natural gas – could keep power rates expensive.

“They should consider that the decision should result in making electricity cheaper, and not more expensive. We already have expensive electricity. This is the reason why we don’t have much manufacturing here in the country,” Arcilla said.

“If they’re going to say LNG (liquefied natural gas), fine. But that will not lower the cost. And you will probably make some rich people even richer,” he said.

The Digging Deeper mining lecture series was organized by PCIEERD and CMP to discuss the possible move into value-added processing of ores to generate more revenue from the country’s mineral wealth.

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