Chuck Baclagon

Recently there has been a lot of talk about ramping up a nuclear program for the Philippines, with the creation of a special committee in the House of Representatives to tackle policies and programs relating to the production, utilization, and conservation of nuclear energy.

As a climate justice organization, we affirm that solutions to the climate crisis should not come at the expense of people and the environment. Knowing the proven and potential adverse effects of nuclear power, which we have discussed in detail already, we maintain that as an energy source, it is a dangerous and costly distraction to addressing both the imperatives of providing greater energy access to Filipinos and decarbonizing the energy sector.

Nuclear energy cannot provide energy security, even more so, address the current power requirements of the country. They are more complex than other large-scale power generation plants, capital-intensive, and may take longer to construct. Typically, a nuclear power plant will take over five years or more to construct if it is fully compliant with the safety standards prescribed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In contrast, renewable energy facilities are frequently built in about two years.

A nuclear-powered energy economy will also subject the Filipino people to greater dependence on foreign fuel, mainly because the Philippines has no natural resource for uranium and only three countries are in control of 58% of its production worldwide. Procurement of uranium fuel alone is not cost-effective and is volatile to larger price hikes.

The affordability and reliability of electricity should be of paramount importance.

The more the government insists on welcoming all power generation technologies, the more it must ensure genuine competition, decentralization of our energy architecture (as opposed to baseload) and factor in energy efficient homes and other infrastructure.

The intermittency of other sources such as wind and solar photovoltaic can be addressed by interconnecting power plants which are widely geographically distributed, and by coupling them with peak-load plants which can quickly switch on to fill in gaps of low wind or solar production. Numerous regional and global case studies – some incorporating modeling to demonstrate their feasibility – have provided plausible plans to meet 100% of energy demand with renewable sources.

A truly leveled playing field is needed for the market to determine the most cost-effective, affordable, reliable, and most efficient power arrangements. No bailouts or subsidies, and stranding assets should be 100% borne by the private sector power provider.

A future free of fossil fuels requires nothing less than an energy revolution —a radical shift in the way we produce, use and distribute energy towards one that benefits people, ecosystems and our climate.

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