PHL ‘potentially ready’ for advanced nuke devt by ’30


THE Philippines is considered to be among the ASEAN economies that are “potentially ready” for advanced nuclear development by 2030, according to a report recently released by the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO).

In the ASEAN+3 Regional Economic Outlook (AREO 2023), the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand are potentially ready to tap nuclear power in seven years.

Countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam are ready to use nuclear energy by 2030 while Cambodia and Malaysia are “potentially ready” by 2050. Lao PDR and Singapore are considered “unlikely ready by 2050.”

“After declining in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident, the region’s interest in nuclear energy is picking up again. The Plus-3 economies account for more than a quarter of the world’s nuclear capacity,” AMRO said.

“Within ASEAN, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have declared intentions to pursue or restart nuclear power projects to reduce fossil fuel dependence, and Singapore is also considering it as part of its 2050 energy mix,” it added.

In the Philippines, AMRO noted that in February 2022, the government issued an executive order to incorporate nuclear power into its energy mix.

This, AMRO said, opens the possibility of restarting the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant which was built but was never operated. The plant was completed in 1984.

Part of these efforts, according to the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028, is the drafting of the Comprehensive Atomic Energy Regulatory Framework.

The PDP stated that this will create a nuclear regulatory body for the peaceful uses and application of nuclear energy. The framework is being drafted by the Department of Energy and the Department of Science and Technology.

“Nuclear energy is not renewable by most definitions, but nuclear energy production does not release GHGs [greenhouse gases], so it is a clean fuel,” the report stated.

“Nuclear energy is produced when atoms are split apart during nuclear fission. The most common fuel used for nuclear fission in nuclear power plants is uranium, which is a non-renewable resource,” the report added.

Stranded assets

Meanwhile, AMRO said the Philippines is among the countries that are at low risk for stranded assets among ASEAN+3 economies.

The report explained that stranded assets would include natural resources such as fossil fuel reserves left in the ground and investments in infrastructure or properties that would never be fully utilized due to the transition to net zero.

AMRO said these will no longer be utilized due to government regulation, technological change, or evolving societal norms and consumer behavior to respond to a country’s aim to shift to clean energy.

“In macroeconomic terms, when a price—explicit or implicit—is suddenly put on carbon emissions that used to be free, this will trigger an accelerated obsolescence of existing capital stock associated with high emissions, especially in the energy, transportation, manufacturing, and building sectors,” AMRO explained.

Based on data from the Degree of Exposure to Stranded-Asset Risk index for 2019, the Philippines’s index score is 0.3, which is lower than most ASEAN+3 economies and higher than Japan at 0.29 and Singapore at 0.15.

AMRO explained that the index indicator ranges from 0 to 1, where 0 is the lowest exposure and 1 is the highest exposure.

The exposure index is based on four indicators including current reliance on fossil fuel–export revenues as a percentage of GDP, an indicator of current dependency on commodity exports.

The indicators also include future reliance on expected resource rents from known fossil fuel reserves as a percentage of current gross national income, a forward-looking indicator of dependency on commodity rents.

The list also includes current carbon intensity of manufactured exports, an indicator of current dependency on carbon-intensive manufactured goods and services.

The report said the index also considers the committed or future emissions from built capital in the power sector divided by current annual power generation, a forward-looking indicator of dependency on carbon-intensive goods and services as a function of the age and emissions intensity of electricity generation.

Tripled mining sector

Meanwhile, AMRO, citing reports, said the Philippines is also poised to triple the size of the mining sector by 2027 with the lifting of the nine-year moratorium on new mining agreements.

AMRO noted that an estimated 190 new mining projects could get under way in the next four years. A third of these projects are expected to be in nickel and open-pit mines.

The mining sector is crucial in the development of the electric vehicle industry. Nickel is also one of the biggest requirements for EV batteries.

The Philippines is considered one of the world’s major producers of nickel, accounting for 13 percent of global production. The country is second only to Indonesia, which accounts for 31 percent.

The country is followed by Russia which accounts for 11 percent; New Caledonia, 8 percent; Australia, 7 percent; Canada, 7 percent; China, 5 percent; and other countries that account for 18 percent of global production.