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Viability of BNPP conversion doubted

San Miguel to bid for nuke plant venture
By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 11:06 PM August 23, 2011

WHAT TO DO? The government is looking into how to make use of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, but a government source says its conversion into a coal- or gas-run facility may not be commercially viable.

The Philippine government has started a quick evaluation of the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) to determine how best to convert the facility, according to Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras.

Almendras on Tuesday told the Inquirer that the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), in particular, was looking at the technology that could be used to convert the idle nuclear facility to run on either coal or gas.

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Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. has also confirmed its interest to participate in a public bidding that could be held for the proposed BNPP conversion project, according to its disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange Tuesday.

However, a government source noted that while the proposed conversion was technically feasible, it might not be economically viable considering that the parts and equipment of the mothballed facility were mostly outdated. This conclusion was based on the results of a previous study commissioned during the time of the late Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes, the source added.

According to the source, the turbine generators at the BNPP have low output efficiencies. As such, although the plant has been converted to run using another fuel, it could likely still yield low output efficiencies since the same generators would be used.

It would thus be more economically viable to put up a new power plant of similar size using the latest equipment and facilities that could generate at maximum capacities, the source explained.

The BNPP was built during the Marcos era by Westinghouse Electric at a cost of $2.2 billion. It was mothballed due to safety concerns in 1986, even before it could begin operations. The structure is now dilapidated and outdated.

Over the past years, however, a number of foreign companies have expressed interest to rehabilitate the BNPP. Previous estimates have pegged the cost of the rehabilitation at $1 billion.

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TAGS: Bataan nuclear power plant, Energy, Government, nuclear plant
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