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Increasing RE should take priority over going nuclear, think tank says

INCREASING the share of renewable energy (RE) in the power mix should take priority over the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) plans to introduce nuclear power, an energy think tank said.

Gerry C. Arances, executive director of Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) said in an e-mail on Friday that the lack of attention paid to renewables “condemns Filipinos to decades more of pollution, high energy prices, and permanently chaotic climate systems.”

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) has called nuclear power inconsistent with the DoE’s goal of modernizing the power sector and called for the establishment of competitive power industry conditions before nuclear power is introduced.

“Nuclear power remains far more expensive than intermittent unreliable coal. The more government insists on welcoming all power generation technologies, the more it must ensure genuine competition,” it said.

On Friday, Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla urged the National Power Corp. (Napocor) to consider tapping modular nuclear reactors to supply electricity to remote areas.

“As we go down the road and consider new opportunities in modular nuclear or even the future of fusion as a source of power, these are the opportunities that we may look into,” Mr. Lotilla said.

Napocor has asked Congress to augment its 2023 budget to ensure the continued operation of the small power utilities group (SPUG), which manages 278 facilities in remote areas.

Napocor cited the volatility of fuel prices, which will require a doubling of the originally budgeted funds at current price levels. Fuel accounted for almost 70% of Napocor’s operating costs for SPUG plants as well as for power provider subsidies.

Napocor focuses on providing power to islands and communities not connected to the main grid.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said in his State of the Nation Address that is time to examine the need for adding nuclear power to the energy mix.

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