Nuclear Energy Regulation

Published August 19, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Senator Francis Tolentino


Senator Francis N. Tolentino

Last Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, I filed my bill on The Philippine Nuclear Regulation Act of 2022.

It aims to regulate and promote the nuclear energy industry in the Philippines by providing for a regulatory framework on its control, use, and application. This piece of legislation will maximize the benefits of nuclear energy while ensuring compliance with nuclear security standards in order to safeguard public health and safety and protect the environment.

Considering the rising prices of commodities, which includes the price of electricity, the passage of this bill is very timely. The need to identify a new source of energy is critical for the country’s plan to provide for additional power generation. Nuclear energy, being a safer and cleaner alternative to fossil fuel, would address the alarming climate change issues of today, as well as ease the rising prices of commodities.

Nuclear energy is the source that can make it all work — it brings forth electricity production, job creation, economic revitalization, and decarbonization.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE), nuclear power is an important source of low-carbon electricity and heat that contributes to attaining carbon neutrality.  The UNECE’s Technology Brief states that decarbonizing energy is a significant undertaking that requires the use of all available low-carbon technologies. Analyses indicate that the world’s climate objectives will not be met if nuclear technologies are excluded.

Nuclear energy further protects air quality, in compliance with our very own Republic Act No. 8749, otherwise known as the “Philippine Clean Air Act,” as a form of zero-emission clean energy. This is attributable to nuclear fissions’ generation of electricity without the harmful byproducts released by coal, oil, and natural gas emissions, which are major pollutants causing stroke, heart disease, neurological disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases, including asthma.

Nuclear power also continues to evolve with the birth of new and better technologies, including small modular reactors (SMRs). Among others, SMRs could provide electricity for small grids or remote locations and will improve the integration of variable renewable energy sources.

Notably, countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, France, and Russia, among others, have explicitly stated from their studies that nuclear power will play an important role in reducing their national emissions in the future.

Lastly, nuclear energy is a very reliable energy source with a high power output. According to the International Energy Forum, the world’s largest international organization of ministers from 71 countries including the Philippines, “the high reliability of nuclear energy means that in terms of production, one nuclear plant could have an equivalent output to two coal power stations — or three to four renewable plants, which are able to generate the same amount of power (1 GW) but in a less consistent way.”

Nuclear power has already benefited several countries for several years and it is time for our country to provide regulation to promote its commercial use. In addition, this will for sure greatly contribute to the country’s energy security.