Foreign firms place BNPP rehab cost at over US$2B

By Myrna M. Velasco – February 19, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

For the country to bring the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to operational stream, the government or its targeted investor will need to fork out more than $2.0 billion for its rehabilitation cost.

This was indicated to the media by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, as he had given snippets of the study outcomes on the idled nuclear power facility.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi

“There have been estimates from the studies made by China and South Korea – and it’s at US$2.0 billion plus,” he said, when asked on the prospective rehabilitation cost for the facility.

Essentially, it was held that the BNPP can still be brought on commercial stream – but cost concern as well as social acceptance shall be among the major concerns that the government will have to resolve.

“All facets of the BNPP studies were already completed. The questions were: can it still be rehabilitated? Yes. Can we still make use of it? Yes… but the main problem is the community,” he stressed.

Cusi noted that in his initial discussion with local government leaders – while they are amenable to the country’s policy on nuclear power as a long-term energy option, most communities still cling in to that not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) mindset.

The government will also need to sort out funding source on any targeted rehabilitation of the nuclear plant; and which entity will be taking the lead.

That will be on top of the more contentious need for policy, regulatory frameworks, safety protocol as well as human resource development on nuclear operations.

The prospect of repowering the BNPP is part of the designed policy of the Department of Energy (DOE) dangling nuclear as part of the country’s eventual policy mix.

But before this can be firmed up in the country’s energy plan, the department has yet to present study outcomes to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Joint Congressional Power Commission.

The energy chief, for the time being, is introducing the idea of deploying sea-based modular nuclear technology – with the pilot project being targeted at 60-megawatt capacity.

He noted that there is no particular site identified yet, but he reckoned that such could be ideal for off-grid areas or those coastal domains that are problematic on the reliability of their power supply.

“What we are just working on now before we roll out the technology is acceptability…because for nuclear, until now, it sets very negative impression on the public sphere,” Cusi said.

Once that hurdle is won over, the energy chief emphasized that “the Russian technology providers can already deploy a demonstration unit.”