Greenpeace: Nuclear power is not the solution to PH’s energy problems

We are writing to respond to Solita Monsod’s two recent articles on nuclear power and the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). We believe that these chronicles glossed over several important facts that the nuclear industry also wants to hide from the public eye.

First, nuclear energy is not cheap. The costs of radioactive nuclear waste management and storage, decommissioning and insurance must be taken into account. Monsod compares the prices of nuclear to coal and oil, but recent reports from the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency have already confirmed that renewable energy ( Renewable energy, mainly from solar and wind, are now by far the cheapest source of electricity. Rehabilitating the BNPP will not be cheap either. Monsod makes a price comparison with new nuclear plants (the cost of which is prohibitive) but fails to make a comparison with renewables, whose investment costs are much lower than those of upgrading the BNPP.

There are also hidden costs, such as the health and livelihood costs for communities living near these factories, as well as the costs that all Filipinos will pay to maintain a regulatory agency. But the biggest hidden cost is the price of a nuclear accident. This cost is in the trillions of pesos and will affect generations of Filipinos. Neither the nuclear industry nor the government has mentioned how these costs would be paid for if this happened.

Second, nuclear energy will not solve our energy problems or provide us with energy security. We still need to import radioactive fuel, so we will be hostage to the price volatility of this raw material. Nuclear proponents also never mention that fuel production is almost a monopoly, dominated by just four companies. This arrangement will lock us into a dependency on fuel and foreign companies, where any shortage or increase in demand globally would mean that Filipinos will face increased energy costs that the government cannot control.

Third, BNPP has not been confirmed by any independent study to be safe for operation, and “small modular nuclear reactors” for power generation do not exist. All of the studies conducted so far that have rated BNPP as “safe” have been conducted by industry-related bodies, and therefore would not be subjective in their assessment. On the other hand, a safety investigation conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed more than 4,000 technical faults in the plant. Meanwhile, small modular reactors promoted by Russian and American nuclear companies or agencies are still under consideration. If the Philippines take this path, we will be among the first guinea pigs in this human experiment.

Fourth, we have never heard of permanent storage for radioactive spent fuel from nuclear promoters. The cost to build and maintain this facility will likely run into the trillions of pesos, to be paid by all Filipinos, not just nuclear power customers. But will the government find a safe place for this deadly waste in the archipelagic and volcanic Philippines? And will there be a local government unit willing to accept it? The problem of nuclear waste management is the toxic burden we will leave on today’s young people and their children, which they will have to face in addition, alongside the climate impacts.

The debt we incurred because of BNPP was gargantuan. It is unfortunate that we have paid what was, in effect, the price of poor energy planning put in place by a government blinded by the false flicker of nuclear power – and the bribes that a expensive energy project. Are we going to let history repeat itself?

Monsod’s hinayang is for the past – say the money we paid for it, she said. It is true that we cannot recover it. But we can stop the Flipinos from carrying the same oppressive burden again. We have the opportunity to harness the cheapest sources of energy in the world – renewable energy in the form of solar and wind power – and redesign our energy system into flexible decentralized networks that are infinitely more efficient than outdated centralized models. relying on inflexible baseload power plants, such as nuclear. This type of energy planning is smart and revolutionary, and is the real solution to the climate crisis. Mas malaking hinayang if we don’t take this opportunity to transform our energy system now and create a better energy future for ourselves.

Khevin Yu,

energy transition activist

Greenpeace Philippines

[email protected]

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