PHL updating energy plans; nuke deal with US in force

PHL updating energy plans nuke deal with US in force
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THE Philippine-US nuclear energy deal entered into force on July 2, the US State Department announced on Tuesday.

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The PHL-US Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (123 Agreement) allows the US to export nuclear material, equipment including reactors and components to the Philippines. It will also allow the transfer of information for nuclear research and civil nuclear energy production.

In January 2023, the Philippines decided to include nuclear power in its energy mix to reduce the country’s dependency on coal for power by developing small modular reactors.

Manila has also committed to reduce greenhouse emissions to 70 percent by 2050.

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The 123 agreement is meant to enhance both countries’ cooperation on clean energy and energy security and strengthen long-term bilateral diplomatic and economic relationships,  according to a statement released Tuesday by the US State Department.

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“Energy security is an increasingly critical global challenge requiring deliberate collaborative efforts, and together our two countries can make a significant contribution to our shared clean energy goals,” the statement read. “Nuclear energy can help achieve these vital global climate change and energy security targets, and we look forward to exploring new avenues of cooperation with the Philippines in civil nuclear energy and other clean energy initiatives.”

The countries signed in November last year the 123 Agreement, which, according to the Department of Energy (DOE), lays the legal framework for potential nuclear power projects with US providers. It also aims to facilitate Philippine-US cooperation in the safe and secure use of nuclear energy taking into full account the standards and safeguards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as in accordance with respective national laws, international agreements, and regulations.

Nuclear alternative

With the increasing demand for power, the Philippine government believes nuclear energy is one of the best alternative sources of cleaner energy.

However, public perceptions on nuclear power plants remain low in the Philippines, as the country is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The only nuclear reactor, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, built by US firm Westinghouse during the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. administration, was mothballed in 1986.

Nuke energy roadmap

The DOE, for its part, said in a statement that the Nuclear Energy Program-Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) 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.

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

In a statement, the DOE also said that the  Department of Foreign Affairs formally informed the United States last June 26, 2024 that the Philippines has completed its domestic requirements for the 123 Agreement’s entry into force.

The 123 Agreement will pave the way for the transfer of information and expertise, nuclear material, equipment, and components directly between the Philippines and the US or through persons authorized by their respective authorities to engage in transfer activities, which will support potential nuclear power projects with US providers.

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Civil nuclear sector

In November 2023, the 123 Agreement was signed by Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and State Secretary Antony Blinken at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Conference in San Francisco, California.

The Philippines is the 24th country or international agency that the US has entered into a nuclear agreement.

“This Agreement is part of broader US efforts to develop the Philippines’ civil nuclear sector.  Creating a safe, secure, and modern sector requires a skilled workforce, robust regulations, and strong commercial partnerships,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

According to the DOE, the 123 Agreement will also pave the way for streamlining the licensing requirements for the private sector with respect to investments on nuclear-related intangible transfers of technology (ITT).

“Energy security is an increasingly critical global challenge requiring deliberate collaborative efforts, and together our two countries can make a significant contribution to our shared clean energy goals.  Nuclear energy can help achieve these vital global climate change and energy security targets, and we look forward to exploring new avenues of cooperation with the Philippines in civil nuclear energy and other clean energy initiatives,” Miller added.

Besides being an alternative source of power, nuclear energy technology has also peaceful uses such as plant breeding, livestock production, insect pest control, soil and crop management, water use efficiency, plastic waste disposal, food safety, health and medicine.

“The Agreement will enhance our cooperation on clean energy and energy security and strengthen our long-term bilateral diplomatic and economic relationships,” Miller stressed.

Manila and Washington D.C. have nearly 80 years of peaceful nuclear cooperation.






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