Nuclear shift needs legal framework — Cusi

The Marcos administration should put in the effort to expedite the ratification of a legal framework to integrate nuclear energy into the country’s energy mix to solve the power shortage problems, especially in off-grid areas.

In Tuesday’s episode of Straight Talk, an online show of the Daily Tribune, former Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the Executive Order issued by former President Rodrigo Duterte is not enough to support the establishment of nuclear power in the country.

He said there has to be a legal framework to guide the government as they navigate through this development.

“From day one, I have been saying that nuclear power should be adopted in our energy mix. It was a struggle during my time in 2016 to 2022 to have it included, but President Duterte finally approved the EO. Right now, what we need is the legal framework that law has to be passed to finally put it as a source of power in the country. It is very important,” Cusi said.

On 28 February, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 164 entitled, “Adopting a National Position for a Nuclear Energy Program, and Other Purposes.”

Cusi pointed out that a strong legal framework would also guide businesses in adopting the new power source.

“It’s hard for just anyone to implement a law without a framework, especially since the international community requires high standards when it comes to nuclear power. I know that President Marcos is very supportive of this idea,” he said.

The former energy chief also noted that the time has come to prioritize the energization of small islands by putting up small modular nuclear power plants, especially in areas not yet connected to the main grid.

In a recent interview with reporters, incumbent DoE Secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla said the government “will be open and we will look into nuclear as an option because it is not emitting carbon, it has the capacity and stability and the highest of sources right now, it’s 90 percent. But the levelized cost of energy from nukes is also among the highest.”

“We will have to balance this. For the small modular nuke power plant, we will attend to that when it’s commercially ready but now we will focus on crafting the regulatory framework,” Lotilla said.

“The president mentioned that we are going to fully consider and abide by the additional requirements of the Atomic Agency especially after the Fukushima incident happened but we are forward-looking and we will be ready once the technology is available. We should be ready to address the problems of the host communities.”

Engaging in nuclear technology calls for the assistance and mentorship of countries that already have knowledge of nuclear energy such as China, Russia, Korea and France.

The government has long been exploring nuclear power as a viable energy source in line with the global push to reduce fossil fuel use due to its hazardous carbon emissions.

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