Time to tap on nuclear power

SunStar Lacanlale
SunStar Lacanlale

It is evident that the Philippines is in dire need of a solution to the rising electricity rates that are crippling businesses and households alike. The government's efforts to promote renewable energy sources have fallen short of addressing the issue, leaving the economy suffering and international investments dwindling.

The restrictive power rates in the Philippines have deterred international investments in several ways.

The increasing costs of electricity have been a burden on both households and businesses, leading to a negative impact on the economy as a whole. Despite efforts to implement renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, the rates continue to soar, prompting many international investments to shy away from the country.

It is no secret that businesses take into account all possible expenses when deciding where to invest their money. With the high cost of electricity in the Philippines, it is no wonder that many multinational companies have chosen to relocate to countries with more affordable power rates. This exodus of businesses has led to a decrease in job opportunities for Filipinos, forcing many to seek employment abroad and causing families to be separated.

High power rates increase the cost of doing business, making it less attractive for foreign companies to set up operations in the country. This is particularly true for energy-intensive industries such as manufacturing, which rely heavily on electricity.

Unreliable power supply and frequent power outages in the Philippines create additional challenges for businesses, leading to production delays and increased operating costs.

Of course there are more “eco-friendly” alternatives like hydro, wind or solar power, but the problem with these is inconsistency.

Solar powers are good only in the day time and when the sun is flashing hot. In the rainy season, the power generated by solar panels is limited. To harvest enough solar power, large swaths of lands are needed and huge investments on hardware is a tough consideration.

Wind and hydro power, too, are reliant on steady wind and water flow. This means we are at the mercy of the elements.

In light of these challenges, it is time for the Philippines to reconsider its stance on nuclear power. Despite the stigma and fear surrounding nuclear energy, it is a viable option that has the potential to provide communities and industries with cheaper electricity. The benefits of nuclear power far outweigh the concerns over safety, particularly when looking at other countries that have successfully operated nuclear power plants for decades.

Countries that use nuclear power as an energy source have successfully managed concerns over safety and environmental impacts by implementing stringent safety regulations, conducting regular inspections and maintenance of nuclear power plants, investing in advanced technology and research for nuclear safety, creating emergency response plans, and transparent communication with the public.

How about the concern on nuclear waste disposal? Many countries have developed various strategies and technologies for the long-term storage and disposal of nuclear waste in a safe and sustainable manner.

Several countries, such as Finland, Sweden, and France, have invested in deep underground repositories as a long-term solution for nuclear waste disposal. These repositories are situated in stable geological formations, such as granite or clay, where the waste is stored deep underground in engineered containers to prevent any leakage into the environment.

The United States opted for encapsulating nuclear waste in glass or ceramic forms before storing them in secure facilities. This method reduces the volume of waste and minimizes the risk of contamination.

Transmutation is the process of converting long-lived radioactive isotopes into shorter-lived or stable isotopes through various techniques, such as accelerator-driven systems or nuclear reactors. This can reduce the overall radiation hazard of nuclear waste and make it easier to manage in the long term.

Many countries have also participated in international initiatives, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), to promote research and collaboration on safe and sustainable nuclear waste management practices. This includes sharing knowledge, best practices, and technologies for the long-term storage and disposal of nuclear waste.

Countries like Russia and Japan, which have experienced nuclear accidents in the past, have not abandoned their nuclear programs due to the economic benefits that nuclear power brings. These countries have learned from their mistakes and have implemented strict safety regulations to prevent similar disasters from happening again. If they can operate nuclear power plants successfully, why can't the Philippines?

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong, Bataan is a prime example of wasted potential. With the capability to generate 800 megawatts of power at a lower cost than conventional coal or fossil fuel-fired power plants, the BNPP remains dormant due to the government's reluctance to embrace nuclear power. Organizations like Alpas Pilipinas are advocating for the plant's revival, highlighting the economic benefits that nuclear power could bring to the country.

While the BNPP may not be able to cover the entire electricity requirements of Luzon on its own, it could serve as a stepping stone towards more nuclear power plants in the future. By starting small and gradually expanding our nuclear energy capacity, the Philippines can reduce its dependency on costly imported fuels and stabilize electricity rates for businesses and consumers.

It is time for the Philippines to break free from the fear and misconceptions surrounding nuclear power. With proper education, training, and safety measures in place, nuclear energy can be a game-changer for our economy.

Let's not allow unfounded fears to hold us back from exploring all possible solutions to our energy crisis. It is time to embrace nuclear power and unlock the potential for a brighter future for the Philippines.

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