The increasing need coupled with a rising price of energy and environmental concerns associated with fossil-fuel use and other traditional sources of energy in the country generates a strong clamor for a cleaner and more sustainable alternative sources. The current administration is considering nuclear energy as a long-term option. In 2017, the Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization (NEP10) was set-up in the Department of Energy (DOE) to coordinate efforts and activities toward nuclear power development in the Philippines. Given these developments, it is necessary to revisit the country's nuclear energy plan. Nuclear power is not new in the Philippines, as the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is a testament to a once-promising energy venture that was mothballed for enviropolitical reasons. The BNPP would have been the first operational nuclear power plant in Southeast Asia, but was abandoned in 1985. The Philippine government nonetheless continues to spend for its annual maintenance costs of some P 40-50 million pesos.
There are 445 nuclear reactors in the world which are currently in operation and another 57 under construction. A total of 30 countries are involved in nuclear energy production including the US, France, China, Japan and Russia. The global capacity of nuclear power has progressively decreased due to changes in Western government policies and the shutdowns of reactors in Japan, Germany and the US. There is, however, an increase in global nuclear generation by 1.4 % in 2016 largely attributed to China's 23% rise. The nuclear power's share in total generation mix fell to 11% in 2015 but still corresponds to nearly a third of the world's low carbon electricity production.
In the ASEAN region, the primary demand for energy grew by 70% between 2000 and 2016. Threefourths of the region's energy production are based on fossil fuels. Vietnam is most serious about nuclear power as manifested by its agreement with Russia and Japan to build two plants. < Click to read the whole article >
A researcher preparing radiation-grafted polymers which can be used to recover uranium from seawater
A small pellet of uranium the size of a pencil eraser produces as much energy as a ton of coal, or three barrels of oil (149 gallons), or about two fuel tankers (17,000 cubic feet) of natural gas. Photo from US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
DOST’s nuclear scientists to recover uranium from seawater
As the government mulls to include nuclear in the country’s energy mix, local scientists are looking at seawater to possibly source uranium which serves as power source for nuclear energy.
“Seawater is an unconventional uranium resource, where this heavy metal is known to be abundant and pseudo-renewable,” says Dr. Jordan Madrid of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute. Dr. Madrid heads a project which will provide a way to tap uranium through the development of adsorbent through radiation grafting technology.
Dr. Madrid’s team earlier used radiation technology to develop abaca into a non-woven fabric that can filter toxic materials such as heavy metals and other contaminants.
If uranium can be recovered locally from seawater, it may help alleviate costs and importation challenges of nuclear fuel, Dr. Madrid says.
Left: Secretary De la Peña delivers his pre-recorded statement at the plenary of the IAEA General Conference
Right: Ambassador Maria Cleofe Natividad, who currently serves as ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the IAEA, attends the plenary of the conference in person. (Photo from the Philippine Embassy in Austria)
DOST Secretary leads Philippine Delegation to IAEA 64th General Conference
Representing the country’s recent strides towards Atoms for Peace and Development, Secretary Fortunato de la Peña of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) officially heads the Philippine Delegation during the opening of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 64th General Conference on September 21, 2020 in Vienna, Austria.
Ambassador Maria Cleofe Natividad, who is the Philippines' ambassador to Austria and the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the IAEA, attends the conference in person as the alternate head of the delegation due to the safety precautions for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In his pre-recorded address to the plenary session, the Secretary acknowledged the role of nuclear science and technology in fighting the current pandemic, thanking the IAEA for its COVID-19 assistance.
"The peaceful uses of nuclear energy have time and time again risen up to meet the world's pressing and complex challenges. It is no surprise, therefore, that nuclear technology has stepped up to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19."
The IAEA 64th General Conference
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will hold its 64th General Conference from September 21 to 25, 2020 at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria. The plenary session will be accessible through the link below:
Apart from the plenary session, there will be several side events featuring topics related to nuclear science and technology. Due to restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the events will be held online.
For more information on the General Conference and the side events, please refer to the link below:
The IAEA, which reports to the United Nations, is the international organization for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology across the globe. The Philippines became a Member State of the IAEA in 1958.