40 firms eyed to participate in nuclear energy development in PH

ILOILO. US Embassy commercial counselor Paul Taylor talks about the 123 Agreement during the 16th Media Seminar organized by the US Embassy in the Philippines in Iloilo City on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.
ILOILO. US Embassy commercial counselor Paul Taylor talks about the 123 Agreement during the 16th Media Seminar organized by the US Embassy in the Philippines in Iloilo City on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.Photo by Laureen Mondoñedo

AROUND 40 companies have been targeted to participate in the development of nuclear energy in the Philippines with the 123 Agreement between the country and the United States (US) already in effect since July 2, 2024.

"Right now, we have 14 American companies that signed up for this industry-led civil nuclear industry working group," said US Embassy commercial counselor Paul Taylor during the 16th Media Seminar organized by the US Embassy in the Philippines in Iloilo City on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

Taylor added that they wish to expand the list of companies to 40, with these firms having different technologies, services, and expertise to offer.

"There are currently 14 companies, and we expect that to expand to as many as 40...These are companies that are providing technology, services, and the know-how that the Philippines will need to really accelerate the development of this industry sector," he said.

He said these companies are paying a small fee to be able to join the industry-led working group.

"My office charges a small fee to American companies to support our services, so these companies are all paying a small fee to join our industry-led working group. We use that revenue to support the programs that we will do," Taylor said.

The 123 Agreement, also known as the Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, entered into force on July 2, 2024, almost eight months after it was signed by Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in San Fransisco, USA in November 2023.

Manila was chosen as headquarters for the US Civil Nuclear Industry Working Group, which is made up of American companies.

Taylor said that while the focus of the working group is the Philippines, it will also touch on few markets in Southeast Asia, stressing that the firms "are spread not just in the United States but also all over the world."

"Some are in Singapore and Australia," he said.

Now that the 123 Agreement is in effect, Taylor said it is now the perfect time for them to shift gears and focus more on commercial promotion, helping the American companies to connect with their potential partners in the Philippines.

Taylor said that on July 31, the industry-led working group will have its first virtual meeting, which will be joined by representatives from the Philippine government and US companies.

"On July 31st, we will have the first of our quarterly industry-led working group meeting that's going to be virtual. We are expecting that DOE will be participating in that. It will include members of this industry-led working group. There's also a possibility that there's going to be a live version here in Manila and companies will be here from the United States," he said.

The meeting, he stressed, is an opportunity for both the US and the Philippines to discuss the path forward, particularly on how the countries are going to work toward the development of nuclear energy in the country.

He added that in November this year, the US Embassy and the Department of Energy (DOE) will be holding a supplier forum.

"We are expecting US companies to actually attend in person and have an opportunity to discuss partnerships with the DOE and really begin to take concrete steps to building the supply chain that will be needed for civil nuclear energy development projects here in the Philippines," he said.

The DOE, meanwhile, welcomed the entry into force of the 123 Agreement, with Secretary Lotilla saying in a statement on Tuesday, July 9, that the deal provides for the "safe and secure use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, for information, knowledge, and technology exchange related to nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation."

"It aims to facilitate Philippine-US cooperation for the transfer of information, nuclear material, equipment, and components taking into full account the standards and safeguards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as in accordance with their respective national laws, international agreements, and regulations," the DOE added.

It also said that according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines has completed its domestic requirements for the Agreement's entry into force.

"The Nuclear Energy Program-Inter-Agency Committee is now finalizing the country’s nuclear energy program roadmap which outlines key targets that must be achieved for the successful use of nuclear energy for power generation," it said.

Under the 2023-2050 Philippine Energy Plan, the entry of nuclear power generation capacities is targeted in 2032 with at least 1,200 megawatts (MW), and additional 1,200 MW by 2035 and 2,400 MW by 2050. (LMY)

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