BAGUIO CITY – Former Pangasinan 5th district Rep. Mark Cojuangco underscored the commissioning of the 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) and the planned fleet of nuclear power plants in different parts of the archipelago will contribute to reducing the high cost of power and thus beneficial to the country’s robust economic growth.
Cojuangco, who was the speaker at the Forum on Nuclear Power held at the University of the Cordilleras (UC) recently, said over the past 30 years, the country was deprived of at least 1 percentaverage growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that could have translated to over P20 trillion in GDP instead of a mere P15 trillion to date.
“Nuclear power is the cheapest source of clean energy because it is powered by uranium, is a mineral being mined out from the earth and from the ocean, thus, it also can be considered as renewable power,” Cojuangco stressed.
He said the government must validate the status of the BNPP with the help of experts from the International Atomic energy Association (IAEA) to ascertain what needs to be done for the plant to operate considering that its commissioning will have to be done within a period of four years.
Cojuangco, an advocate of nuclear energy, said if the cost of upgrading and commissioning of the plant will cost the government $1 billion or more, then it is best to scrap the plant and build another one; but if the upgrading and commissioning will cost less than $ billion, then government must push through with it to guarantee its operation.
From the average of P10 per kilowatt-hour of power prevailing in the country today, Cojuangco claimed the presence of nuclear power could result in a rate of P5 per kilowatt-hour that would guarantee robust economic growth as prospective investors are assured of the presence of a reliable source of energy.
According to him, it takes $1 billion to build a coal plant with a similar power output while the power cost will be pegged at P5 per kilowatt-hour and a lifespan of only 40 years.
On the other hand, the cost of powerproduced by a nuclear power plant is pegged at P1.50 per kilowatt-hour and the plant will have a lifespan of 80 years or double the lifespan of coal plants.
In order to operate a coal power plant with a similar power output to that of the BNPP, it burns more than 2.2 million tons of coal that produce over 8 million tons of carbon dioxide spewed out into the air and over 400,000 tons of coal ash.
Cojuangco added it will only take a Boeing 737 plane to bring in nuclear fuel that could facilitate the operation of the BNPP for a period of 18 months without interruption with lesser waste wherein the spent nuclear fuel, when properly disposed of, will be a gold mine for the country in the future.
He argued if the BNPP was operational in 1984, then there should have been 6 additional nuclear power plants that should have been built that could have already played a key role in reducing the cost of power in the country to date.