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Technology’s Role in the Philippines’ Climate Resilience Agenda

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The Philippines, in its pursuit of sustainable energy solutions and climate resilience, has embarked on a multifaceted strategy to diversify its energy sources. With a firm commitment to reducing dependency on traditional fossil fuels, the nation is actively exploring and investing in alternate energy options.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is contemplating a pivotal memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. (KHNP), marking a potential stride towards assessing the viability of reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in the Philippines.

DOE Undersecretary Sharon Garin disclosed to the Philippine News Agency that KHNP has extended an invitation for a Philippine delegation to embark on a study tour in South Korea, slated for the culmination by January end of next year. This visit aims to finalise the feasibility study concerning the Philippines’ dormant nuclear asset.

Garin emphasised that the MOU does not signify an obligation for the Philippine government to entrust the project to a Korean entity. “Their offer is they will do the feasibility study. If it’s possible to restart it (BNPP) without any commitment on the part of the government who will undertake the project.”

She highlighted the advantageous nature of this collaboration, focusing on resolving debates regarding the feasibility of revitalising BNPP without any inherent commitment. “It’s purely advantageous for us. For debate’s sake, just to end the debate whether it’s possible for us [to revive the BNPP] or not. If not, then fine. And if it’s possible, we are not obliged to award it to a Korean company,” she added.

The KHNP Overseas Business Development Department has undertaken the responsibility to cover all expenses related to the BNPP feasibility study, including potential training programmes tailored for Filipino professionals.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. had previously explored nuclear energy as a potential solution to power shortages, considering the revival of BNPP. However, safety concerns and other issues prevented its activation after its completion in 1984.

In 2022, former president Rodrigo Duterte initiated an executive order establishing the Nuclear Energy Programme Inter-Agency Committee. This committee aimed to investigate the potential integration of nuclear power into the country’s energy mix, seeking sustainable and cost-effective power sources.

Simultaneously, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sealed a nuclear cooperation agreement during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco. This agreement will facilitate collaborative efforts between the two nations in technical exchanges, scientific research, and endeavours to ensure the safe operation of nuclear power installations.

This significant step reflects the evolving narrative surrounding nuclear energy in the Philippines, underlining a concerted effort to explore sustainable and secure energy solutions for the nation’s future.

In the wake of the 51st Atomic Energy Week (AEW), Secretary Renato U Solidum Jr of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) advocates for the transformative potential of nuclear technology in mitigating the challenges posed by climate change.

As the global community grapples with the urgent need to combat the impacts of climate change, Secretary Renato sees nuclear science as a dynamic force capable of offering innovative solutions to multifaceted issues.

At the recent Conference of Parties (COP), Secretary Renato underscored the imperative for collective action, emphasising that climate change is an imminent threat that demands immediate attention. Nuclear technology emerges as a key player in this global effort, with the potential to address critical concerns related to alternative energy, agriculture, and environmental protection.

OpenGov Asia reported that Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno made a plea at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), highlighting the urgent need for digital payment transitions as a strategic driver for climate action and resilience.

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