Former energy secretary backs use of nuclear power

by Lenie LecturaSeptember 10, 2016

from Business Mirror

FORMER Energy Secretary Francisco Viray on Saturday said nuclear power is a “good part of energy mix” because it is a stable, reliable and predictable source of energy.

“On a general principle, there is no problem with nuclear energy in terms of supporting our power supply. Take away the concerns on public acceptance and it is feasible,” said Viray, president of Phinma Energy Corp.

However, nuclear power is a costly investment. As such, whoever owns and operates a nuclear-power plant should be able to identify and seal an off-taker deal.

“Yes, nuclear energy will lower the prices at WESM [Wholesale Electricty Spot Market], but there should be an identified market for it. It needs big contracts because you can’t cycle nuclear energy,” Viray said.

If the private sector will own, operate, and maintain the power plant, “then government subsidy is a must,” Viray said.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier said he is “open to nuclear power.”

Cusi also supports the proposal on the use of small modular reactors (SMRs) raised during the three-day conference on the Prospects of Nuclear Power in the Asia-Pacific Region held in Manila.

The Philippines is an archipelago consisting of 7,107 islands. Cusi said SMRs would a big help in providing electricity to far-flung areas.

Ambassador Maria Zenaida Angara Collinson, overall chairman of the conference, said the region will benefit from advances in SMRs owing to the specific geographic nature of the region.

The Asia-Pacific region, she added, may benefit from the introduction of nuclear power to decrease reliance of fossil fuels and meet clean-energy objectives.

However, Collinson cited key challenges to the development of a high nuclear scenario in the region. These include public acceptance and safety concerns, nuclear waste issues, large upfront investment, and uncertainty in government support.

She said public participation and involvement is critical at every stage of a nuclear power program.