Two Australia-based firms, Southern Infrastructure Pty. Ltd. and Kaizen ANZ Pty. Ltd., have expressed interest in building a 40-megawatt (MW) thorium reactor in the Philippines.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual, who met with representatives of the two firms in Adelaide a day before the 6th Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting, made the announcement. I Photo: Fred Pascual Facebook
This announcement was made by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual, who met with representatives of the two firms in Adelaide on Monday, a day before the 6th Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting.
During the meeting, they discussed a potential project involving the development, construction, and operation of an initial 40 MW thorium-fueled high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, known as STGR20.
This reactor aims to provide safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly baseload energy at the lowest kWh (kilowatt-hour) rate in the market, priced at USD0.038 per kWh, according to the DTI.
In addition to generating cost-effective electricity, this system can produce green hydrogen for transportation, desalinated water as a by-product, and gamma radiation for long-term food product storage.
The project is set to commence by mid-2024, with construction completion expected by 2027. It is anticipated to create at least 1,000 local jobs during both its construction and operation phases, as mentioned by the DTI.
The Australian firms are reportedly seeking a public-private partnership agreement for this endeavor. Thorium is being employed as fuel to produce nuclear energy, which is considered safer and generates significantly less nuclear waste compared to uranium-based nuclear power plants.
However, thorium-fired nuclear plants have a smaller power capacity than conventional uranium-based ones, as uranium remains widely used as fuel in nuclear power plants.
The Philippines currently does not have nuclear power in its energy mix. The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, constructed in the 1980s, was never operational due to opposition over safety concerns and corruption allegations.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte, prior to the conclusion of his term in June 2022, issued Executive Order (EO) 164, which mandated the inclusion of nuclear power in the country's energy mix.
This EO also aims to establish a national policy on nuclear energy and institutionalize a Nuclear Energy Program designed to withstand changes in administration.
Pascual emphasized the significant opportunities in the Philippine energy sector as the country explores alternative energy sources such as hydrogen and nuclear power, along with further studies to develop relevant policies and sustainable practices.