Nuke developers call to set competitive playing field

Government regulators are now urged to prioritize the establishment of a level-playing field to entice developers to pour in massive capital for the development and integration of nuclear power into the country's electricity grid.

During the second nuclear energy roundtable talks between the Philippines and Canada on Tuesday, Felino Bernardo, chief operating officer of Aboitiz Power Corp.'s Thermal Business Group, emphasized the need for well-coordinated industry policies to help kick off local nuclear adoption.

"I think it will start with the amendment or the passing of laws in the Lower House. Once done, it requires setting up the regulatory body, and for that regulatory body to build its capability and come up with regulations, policies, and guidelines for us developers to follow," Bernardo said.

"The DoE (Department of Energy) has to come up with the right signal for developers to come up with their plans to make sure that we build accordingly," he added.

Coordinated deals

Bernardo noted that nuclear power plants, whose operations can last as long as 80 years, require a different set of policies for power deal contracts.

"That is quite different from what we have now. The current CSP (Competitive Selection Process) policies are only for 15 years. Now, nuclear power plants can live as long as 40, 60 years, and some probably 80, so you have to match the two," he explained.

According to Bernardo, nuclear power, particularly the small modular reactors, "have a place in our economy because we need all of them and we will need a lot of them."

He, however, noted that developers need to make sure that they can deliver nuclear power safely.

Aboitiz Power Corp., the holding company for energy-related investments of the Aboitiz Group, previously announced its exploratory discussion with Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp., an American firm that can potentially help the company's local nuclear energy development.

The forum yesterday served as a platform for industry experts, policymakers, and leaders to collectively deliberate on the significant questions and concerns related to the transition to nuclear energy.

It covered the determining mechanisms for transition financing, assessing the commercial viability of nuclear energy, and exploring the potential for retrofitting and upgrading existing plants to be nuclear-capable.

Congress support

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla reiterated that the government would need the support of Congress in ratifying a law that would help jumpstart nuclear development.

Pending the law, Lotilla pointed out that the DoE and all other concerned government agencies are actively looking out for possible sites where a nuclear power plant can be built.

To recall, the House Nuclear Energy Committee approved a consolidated substitute bill last March that seeks to comprehensive atomic regulatory framework and establish the Philippine Atomic Regulatory Commission.

Since the government is prohibited from taking on power generation endeavors, the DoE has also tapped the National Economic and Development Authority to work on the private sector's participation in nuclear development.

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