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The Philippines Set for Nuclear Power MOU with the U.S.

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 In a briefing with US officials, Energy Secretary, Alfonso G. Cusi, confirmed his plans to travel to the United States to set the Nuclear Power MoU in motion. Moreover, he elaborated on how American companies can contribute to the initiative. Specifically, Cusi laid down various areas where they can funnel their capital primarily into the renewable energy (RE) sector and help jumpstart the revival of the country’s nuclear ambitions.

Understandably, the move towards nuclear energy is a move towards a better planet. Energy from nuclear reactors has been viewed as a better alternative to traditional fossil-fuel energy sources. Simply put, nuclear energy is a carbon-free, zero-emission clean energy source that produces more electricity on far less land than traditional means. While small module reactors are not the most well-known of nuclear power plants, they are every bit as effective as America’s Palo Verde Generating Station (PVGS), the premier power producer.

Technically, nuclear reactors are defined by how much power they churn. SMRs as nuclear fission reactors typically put out an electrical output of fewer than 300 MWe. Alternatively, their output can come in the form of thermal energy, less than 1000 MWth. It’s clear SMRs are dwarfed by conventional nuclear power in terms of output. Palo Verde’s Generating Station has a generating capacity of 3,810,000 kW or about 3,937 MW. That’s over 32 million megawatt-hours annually. That kind of output is more than enough to power the needs of over 4 million people. PVGS has been a key asset to the American Southwest.

But power output is just one of the many considerations in choosing a particular nuclear reactor. And though relatively nascent, small module reactors offers distinct advantages over traditional nuclear power. Top of the list is these small reactors don’t cost as much. Plus, they are easier to build.

SMRs can be manufactured at a plant and moved to their target site when done. As they reduce the need for on-site construction, they increase containment efficiency. A key feature is they can be operated with less human intervention — using passive safety features.

In short, small as SMRs are, they offer a far safer option compared to more robust, traditional nuclear power reactors. It’s no accident that in a world increasingly moving towards clean energy, the adoption of these small-version nuclear reactors has increased. More and more countries and businesses have opted for SMRs for the conveniences they offer.

This is exactly what Cusi has been wanting to accomplish in light of the pandemic and the vulnerabilities that the spread of the virus has made obvious. The energy secretary clarified, “From the start of the Duterte administration, I have actively advocated for the inclusion of nuclear for our country’s energy mix. And as the years went by, with the pandemic further revealing the vulnerability of our energy sources, it became more urgent for us to integrate nuclear into our energy mix as it would be highly beneficial for our country.”

Indeed, this is welcome news in today’s challenging times. In light of the upcoming presidential elections this May 9, it shows that technology is giving the country of over 100.8 million Filipinos a headstart towards a better future.

And the private sector knows this. To truly move forward as a country, there has to be better cooperation between the incoming government and the business sector for the good of society as a whole with a clear national guideline in technology policies in place. In view of the imminent change in the country’s leadership, this is what fintech leaders of the country wanted to be assured of in their recent forum with current government executives, as reported on OpenGov Asia.

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