Marcos wants to reexamine PH's nuclear technology, renewable sources in energy agenda

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 25) — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. wants to prioritize the use of renewable energy sources to address climate change and the country's disaster resilience capabilities.

"We have the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. For the welfare of our people, it is incumbent upon us to alleviate the effects of that vulnerability," Marcos said in his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 25. "The use of renewable energy is at the top of our climate agenda."

Marcos said the country must increase its use of "hydropower, geothermal power, solar, and wind" energy sources and rehabilitate the country's water supply systems, especially in urban areas.

He said that he has already instructed Environment Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga and Public Works Secretary Manny Bonoan to explore possible partnerships with the private sector to ensure fresh water supply in parts of the country.

"Solar power has steadily increased its efficiency in converting sunlight to electrical power, which is particularly attractive to us. Unlike wind power, solar power is practical — almost everywhere in the Philippines, all year round,” Marcos said.

He also stressed the importance of investing in technology that would provide more accurate weather forecasts and disaster impacts, in line with his goal of disaster-proofing communities.

The President also reiterated the need to build new power plants, as well as his previous position to reexamine the government's strategy to build nuclear power plants in the country.

“In the area of nuclear power, there have been new technologies developed that allow smaller scale modular nuclear plants and other derivations thereof,” he said.

“We will comply, of course, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations for nuclear power plants as they have been strengthened after Fukushima,” he said, referring to the nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.

During the campaign period in January, Marcos backed calls for the possible revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant — built during the administration of his father, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos — which he claimed was ordered shut purely because of political reasons.

READ: Marcos claims politics behind mothballed Bataan nuclear plant, echoes call for possible revival 

Reacting to the SONA, environmental group Greenpeace raised concern about the "mixed signals" in the President's energy agenda.

"It’s hypocritical to talk about addressing the climate crisis while prioritizing dangerous energy sources," he said. "If the President is sincere about acting on the environment and climate, he should head straight for genuine renewable energy – and stop promoting nuclear and fossil gas."

The group also warned that existing energy problems may only be exacerbated by the President's insistence on PPPs, by "surrendering the fate of our energy sector to corporations, when the administration’s primary concern should be providing Filipinos with safe, affordable, and reliable power."

"The President should walk the talk on his statements about preserving the environment and human life, and stop creating barriers to RE (renewable energy)," it added. "Distracting ourselves with more costly and risky sources only sacrifices valuable time and resources – and threatens the very lives he wants to preserve.”