DOE all set for new nuclear power study

By Myrna M. Velasco – August 27, 2017, 10:00 PM

from Manila Bulletin

With approval-in-principle already secured by the Department of Energy (DOE) on its proposed budget of P50 million for a feasibility study, the government may already set sail on its “nuclear renaissance” agenda or crafting the roadmap for the rebirth of the country’s nuclear power program.

“By approving the budget for NEPIO (Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization), we’re agreeing with DOE to do the study and then they will come back to us and talk about it whether nuclear energy has space or has a future in our system,” Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian said.

The study frame is not yet time-bound, he said, but the legislative would be expecting it to be results-focused, principally on critical concerns such as system redundancies of nuclear plants to withstand safety and security risks; strategy on the development of local human resource on nuclear operations and management; setting up of the regulatory and policy frameworks; and other important facets including waste disposal or transport of radioactive materials and even propounded recycling of spent fuel.

“They (DOE officials) requested for P50 million to set up that nuclear study and we agreed to that, and definitely they promised that they will share with us the results,” Gatchalian reiterated.

Focal points of the study result he wants to see would be on the redundancy system of a nuclear power project and the ensuing cost; and how the next batch of energy enthusiasts could be lured into the nuclear engineering field as well as related disciplines.

“Most of the recent constructions of nuclear power plants are beyond budget because of the redundancy systems… also, domestic human resource and expertise, the way to develop that should also be part of the equation,” Gatchalian said.

After a botched nuclear power program back in the 1980s, the Philippines will effectively be re-taking “baby steps” on building up human knowledge and expertise on the development, risk management and operation of such technology that could advance goals of energy security.

Particularly for Slovenia which will be visited again this year by the Philippine-DOE and with it now inching close to 40 years on the operation of its Krśko nuclear power facility, one prescriptive tone set had been that “relying solely on the knowledge and competence of foreign experts could come as a ‘dangerous play’ for countries intending to take their foray into nuclear power in their energy mix agenda.”