APEC ministers promote use of nuclear energy

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) energy ministers have encouraged member economies to look into the potential of nuclear power to support the region’s goal of cutting carbon footprint and emission of greenhouse gases.

We reaffirm the importance of safe and efficient development of civil nuclear power as an option to clean, high-quality and advanced modern energy, which functions as a base load power source, to help ensure global energy security and sustainable development as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the joint statement of the Energy Ministerial Meeting (EMM) read.

APEC energy ministers have encouraged interested member economies to continue close cooperation such as exchange of information and best practices to improve nuclear safety performance.

Interested member economies should further collaborate in emergency response and preparedness mechanisms as well as conducting capacity building and training for safe and peaceful development and use of nuclear power.

As far as APEC is concern, they are promoting nuclear power, said Energy Undersecretary Loreta Ayson on the sidelines of a press conference concluding the EMM here.

It’s an option, although not all economies are in to nuclear (power). Like in the Philippines, we have a problem on social acceptability, added Ayson, who also co-chaired the APEC Energy Working Group Meeting.

She said safety issue remains the top reason why people reject to tap nuclear energy.

People fear it’s not safe. But come to think of it, latest technology is in place so that safety is always there. But I think our people have yet to be informed. They have to be convinced, the Energy official noted.

It’s a clean fuel so it doesn’t emit greenhouse gas or carbon dioxide. It’s a clean and cheap fuel, she stressed.

Earlier, Ayson said nuclear power remains part of the long-term options of the Department of Energy and it continues to conduct studies on nuclear energy.

Ayson said that some APEC economies are increasing the share of nuclear energy to power generation while other member economies are putting up nuclear power facilities or exploring to tap the sector.

International Atomic Energy Agency data show APEC economies that are using nuclear energy are Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and United States.

These economies’ nuclear share to electricity generation in 2014 ranged from 19 to 30 percent.

Ayson noted that neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam are looking into adopting nuclear resources as part of energy generation.

Japan also returned to tap nuclear energy as it restarted in August its first nuclear power, Sendai plant, after the Fukushima meltdown in 2011.

Aside from civil nuclear power, APEC ministers also urged member economies to expand in biofuels, advanced coal technologies, liquefied natural gas as well as solar, wind, and marine technologies as the region aims to shift to low-carbon economy.

APEC economic leaders envisioned the region to double renewable energy’s share to power generation by 2030.

If the region will not resort to other energy resources, APEC is expected to be heavily dependent in coal-fired power plants which is expected to account 70 percent of the total energy capacity in the next 15 years.