President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has signed an executive order to incorporate nuclear power in the country’s energy mix, as officials prepare to phase out coal-fired power facilities and after previous attempts failed owing to safety concerns.
The news: The directive, which was made public on Thursday, might represent a watershed moment for an economy plagued by seasonal power disruptions and high electricity prices, but others are concerned.
- The directive, which was signed three months before Duterte’s single six-year term ends, also authorises an inter-agency group to examine into restoring the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which has been closed for years (BNPP).
- The national government commits to the introduction of nuclear power energy into the state’s energy mix, it stated.
- Nuclear power, according to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, might help address supply difficulties and excessive costs.
What’s going on: As the Philippines prepares to retire coal plants in order to fulfil climate objectives, Duterte stated nuclear power would be considered as a potential alternative baseload power source.
- Previous attempts to pursue nuclear energy in the Philippines have been discontinued due to safety concerns, but the latest idea is based on a proposal to resurrect the BNPP, which was built in response to an energy crisis during dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ reign.
What happened: Following Marcos’ fall and the fatal Chernobyl nuclear tragedy, the plant was shut down two years later.
- BNPP has become a tourist attraction since 2009, helping to pay the costs of its upkeep.
What are they saying: “The Duterte administration is about to leave a tarred legacy and is setting us up for another horror story like Chernobyl and Fukushima,” Greenpeace campaigner Khevin Yu said, referring to the world’s worst nuclear disasters.
- Nuclear power still requires legislation, according to Energy Undersecretary Gerardo Erguiza Jr, and its future is also dependent on the agenda of the next administration.
- Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the late dictator’s son and the front-runner in the May presidential election, has stated that he intended to “revisit” the BNPP project.