TWO foreign investors group have expressed interest to construct a nuclear plant in the country to address the looming power shortage.

Froilan Tampinco, president of National Power Corp. (Napocor), said the two companies include the South Korea-based Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco).

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Kepco was commissioned by Napocor to study the possible rehabilitation of the 620 megawatt (MW) Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

Its interest on putting up a nuclear power plant was on top of its interest to rehabilitate the facility, which may cost some $1 billion.

But Tampinco declined to identify the other investor, which he said is a French company.

Tampinco said they have already identified possible sites for nuclear plant including the BNPP location.

“Remember, (the BNPP compound) is good for two units. When the BNPP was constructed, they had also laid the foundation for a second unit. They were anticipating another 620-MW nuclear power plant,” Tampinco explained.

According to the Napocor chief, if Kepco be allowed to put up a nuclear power plant in the country, the Korean firm may use smart reactors that have capacities of 600 MW to 800 MW.

The rehabilitation of the BNPP may take at least five years while construction a new nuclear facility may take as long as 10 years, which will include putting in place the necessary infrastructures such as legal, regulatory, financial, social and human infrastructures.

“With the 10-year timeframe, this is assuming you don’t have a site. The 10 years can be accelerated provided that certain conditions are met right away,” he added.

Asked what he prefers, Tampinco said he would choose to construct a new facility rather than rehabilitate the BNPP which is more cost effective.

Tampinco stressed that the BNPP rehabilitation may encounter some problems especially in the determination of the availability of its parts.

He also said nuclear energy should be considered by the government as among the viable options to securing energy self-sufficiency, particularly over the long term.

He added that the Philippine government should start making preparations as early as now to ensure that all the necessary policies and infrastructures are in place since it takes as long as 10 years to put up a facility.

The Department of Energy noted that the first 600-MW nuclear power plant of the country should be in place by 2025. This is expected to contribute 0.885 million ton oil equivalent (MTOE) to the projected energy mix and reach up to 3.54 MTOE by 2035.

BNPP was constructed in the 1970's during the term of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. The plant cost reached US$ 2.3 billion, however, it was never been used. (MSN/Sunnex)