Aussies pitch 40-MW thorium-fueled nuclear plant
MANILA -Australian firms Southern Infrastructure Pty Ltd and Kaizen ANZ Pty Ltd. want to partner with the Philippine government to bring thorium-fueled nuclear energy to the country, a venture that could mark a significant milestone in the country’s push to adopt nuclear power.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Monday said the representatives from the two companies had discussed this possibility with Trade Secretary Alfred Pascual.
The DTI said that the prospective public-private partnership (PPP) venture would develop, build and operate an initial 40-megawatt thorium-fueled simple, high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor.
Thorium is a weakly radioactive metallic chemical element that is more abundant in nature than uranium, which is commonly used to fuel nuclear reactors.
The project is seen to start by the middle of next year, with construction targeted to be finished by 2027, according to the DTI.
The government agency added that this project was also expected to generate at least 1,000 local jobs during the construction, as well as operation of the facility.
“Further, the system will also be able to produce green hydrogen for transport, desalinated water as a byproduct and gamma radiation as a byproduct to allow long term storage of food products,” the DTI said, further highlighting the other useful byproduct from the operation of such a facility.
This prospective venture is the latest in several recent initiatives or engagements of the Marcos administration to adopt nuclear energy.
Earlier in May, Pascual said that American nuclear power firms Power Corp. and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation were also looking at establishing a local production line for small modular or micromodular reactors.
The Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. Ltd., Korea’s state-owned power generation firm, is also offering to rehabilitate the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant and to offer training programs for the personnel who will operate the facility.
Aside from these countries, the Philippines is also currently looking into possible nuclear energy deals with France and China, to address its growing power needs.
Today, most of the Philippines’ power plants are coal-fired and diesel-fed, tying the cost of electricity to the volatile global market prices of coal and oil and making decarbonization efforts more challenging. INQ