Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant: Should We Revive This 30-Year Old Mothballed Project or Not?

Wazzup Pilipinas!
"In line with the President's vision, an essential component of the country's energy plan involves a long-term initiative of developing a sustainable, diversified and balanced energy mix that is responsive and supportive of the country’s growing economy. Ultimately, the collateral goals include not only reducing our emissions, but also paving the way for the possible entry of other emerging technologies. Nuclear power is an emerging--or more accurately, "re-emerging"--alternative, as far as the country is concerned." - Sec. Alfredo Cusi, DOE
Experts are saying all our fears about nuclear power plants are false. The disinformation is staggering and has made Filipinos hesitant of ever allowing such power plants to exist in our country.

But the real question is, will this 30-year old unused Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) still work even after a USD 1 Billion rehabilitation? 

The BNPP project was mothballed in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. But then, clamor for the reopening of the Bataan Nuclear power plant was revived during the power crisis in the 90s and the skyrocketing of oil prices in 2007.

But then the Fukushima nuclear plant incident happened in 2011, creating global panic and concerns about the safety and integrity of nuclear plants. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the incident virtually led to an undeclared moratorium on all plans to go nuclear for power generation. 
If these weren't enough, adding to these various setbacks, the emergence of natural gas, wind and solar energy pushed nuclear power deeper into dormancy.

USD 1 Billion to rehabilitate the 30-year old 620-MW Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to make it fully operational again. That's almost the same price as a coal plant. But the power the BNPP will generate will be more than double what a coal plant can offer, and will not pollute the environment with any emissions. Since the plant has not been operated yet since it was built, it can also be considered as new. They keep telling us that the FEAR we have against nuclear power plants is wrongly put out of proportion. Renewable energy sources would not be enough to lower our electricity since the power coming from solar, wind , etc are intermittent

I was among the media invited by the Department of Energy to visit the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Together with us are senators JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay and Win Gatchalian. One of the main speakers to present to them was former Congressman Mark Cojuanco who is valiantly pushing for the reopening of the power plant.

Though they say it was well-maintained, I'm sure there must be more advanced designs and facilities after several years.

However, experts have assured that it will run like new after the rehab. There are also studies that the renewable energy sources will not really solve our quest for bringing down the price of electricity.

Are we giving in so we could finally get cheaper electricity for everyone?

"Our power generation mix as of end of 2015 is composed of 45% coal, 25% renewable, 23% natural gas and 7% oil.  On the other hand, our 2015 installed capacity mix is made up of 66% fossil fuels, 15% of which is in natural gas.

With intensified electrification programs, increasing population and strong GDP growth, demand for electricity is expected to grow by an average of 5 percent per year until 2030[1], or around 126 terra-watt hour (TWh) from the 2015 level of 82 terra-watt hour (TWh). This is the most pressing concern for the country.

To meet this requirement, we have to weigh all our options, with emphasis not just on meeting capacity requirements, but sustainability and environmental obligations as well."

"We need to have our own Energy Technology Roadmap to guide us in the selection, adaption and innovation of technologies for our use.  This will
require us to look at all current and emerging technologies and the many factors needed to make best use of them.

Given its known characteristics, nuclear technology can be viable choice for the country. We are told that on a "levelized basis", nuclear power is an economical source--high on productivity and reliability, and low on costs and emissions. It is also said that the nuclear infrastructure and system is more cost-efficient in the long-term.

Reports and special studies also say that operation of nuclear plants has become safer, more predictable, and more dependable, with useful life of over 60 years."

"But then again, we must start with our own Filipino public consciousness about this promising energy source.

We have to address the deep-seated social stigma and negative perception about nuclear energy lodged in the hearts and minds of the Filipino.

We also have to clear away decades-long half-truths, borne and exacerbated by highly prejudiced opinions conveniently dished out every time this matter of nuclear energy comes up. High on political innuendos, but lacking in scientific basis.

Pursuing the path towards nuclear power for the Philippines may not be a walk in the park. But this regional conference is definitely a forward step in the right direction. Our nation will benefit from the dynamism of the discussion and the transference of knowledge that we expect from this exercise."

"We invited various technical experts on nuclear power development to help the Philippines, among other participating countries, in identifying the next steps and come up with a well-informed decision while exploring appropriate options for nuclear power development. " - Sec. Alfredo Cusi , DOE

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  1. The BNPP project was mothballed in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. But then, clamor for the reopening of the Bataan Nuclear power plant was revived during the power crisis in the 90s and the skyrocketing of oil prices in 2007. Underground gas storage

  2. Nuclear power is cost competitive with other forms of electricity generation, except where there is direct access to low-cost fossil fuels. nuclear explosion


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