Shall We Go Nuclear?

Shall We Go Nuclear?

Oil Crisis of 2008

The recent oil crisis which saw the rise of crude oil prices to a peak of $147 per barrel in the world market and its attendant effect on raising electricity prices in the Philippines at a rate higher than its competitor economies in the region has brought forth renewed calls to review policies relative to the development of the Philippine Nuclear Industry.

Revive the 600 MW BNPP?

In particular, attention has been directed toward reviving the mothballed 600 MW Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) constructed by the National Power Corporation in the early 1980’s. In its desire to be part of the growing list of nuclear power generation nations in the world, the Philippines implemented a national agenda that included the construction of the 600 MW BNPP in tandem with the 300 MW Kalayaan Pumped Storage Hydro Plant in 1982. The pumped storage would serve as a dummy load of the nuclear plant during off-peak periods at night in order to allow for a constant and stable generation of 600 MW of nuclear power throughout the entire day. (In the absence of the “cheap” nuclear electricity, the Laguna Lake water is pumped uphill to Lake Caliraya at night using geothermal, coal and sometimes expensive oil-based electricity in order to have adequate baseload capacity during day-time peak hours.)

Numerous Issues Hounded the BNPP

Unfortunately, or for reasons only Providence could imagine, the BNPP has been hounded with controversy ranging from allegations of overprice and corruption in the construction of the power plant, unsafe plant location being near an inactive volcano (Mt. Natib), being located near an active fault, possible long-term environmental harm to the nearby residents and Luzon populace in the event of accidental release of radio active gases and materials arising from a nuclear accident, unsafe plant design (pressurized water reactor or PWR), expensive electricity arising from its high cost per kW due to overprice (one 600 MW plant for the cost of two 600 MW plants as originally conceived), and of course, how to economically and safely dispose of the spent nuclear fuel material, radioactive control rods and other materials exposed to high levels of radiation.

More »