MANILA — Representative Bernadette Herrera from the Bagong Henerasyon Party-list has expressed her willingness to include nuclear energy, specifically small nuclear reactors (SNRs), in the future energy mix of the Philippines.
Rep. Herrera stressed the importance of considering suggestions put forth by the United States, while also highlighting the need for comprehensive feasibility studies, engineering assessments, safety evaluations, and economic analyses before making any definitive decisions.
“I am receptive to the United States’ suggestions of incorporating nuclear energy from small nuclear reactors into the Philippines’ future energy mix. The key aspects here are ‘incorporate’ and ‘suggestions’,” stated the Deputy Minority Leader.
Rep. Herrera acknowledged that this proposal from the United States is not the first of its kind, as the reintroduction of nuclear energy generation has been previously discussed. She also mentioned an upcoming nuclear energy study tour organized by the Biden-Harris administration for Filipino legislators, which she sees as an opportunity to gather more information.
“I am open-minded because we still need to conduct necessary and new feasibility, engineering, safety, and economic studies. These studies will take several years, depending on the availability of funding and the interest among investors and financiers. We also await the revisions to the Philippine Energy Plan to gain a comprehensive understanding of the long-term role of nuclear energy within the overall energy sources,” she explained.
Emphasizing the significance of a diversified energy mix, Rep. Herrera stressed that if nuclear energy were to be included, it would initially comprise a small portion of the overall mix. She called for a clearer understanding of the Department of Energy’s plans for the introduction and development of nuclear energy, as well as how it would complement the reduction in coal energy and the increase in renewable sources such as solar, wind power, hydropower, geothermal, and biogas.
Regarding small nuclear reactors, Rep. Herrera highlighted the potential of floating and offshore modular designs, particularly in low-risk areas, as the safest options for the Philippines. She suggested deploying these reactors in regions such as Mindoro, Bicol, Panay Island, Northern Mindanao, Northeastern Mindanao, and Western Mindanao, where power shortages are often experienced.
However, she made it clear that any location should be situated far from earthquake faults and storm paths, while also ensuring they are not within or near integrated protected areas and nature sanctuaries. (ai/mtvn)