U.S. Pledges to Help Philippines Develop Nuclear Power

The U.S. will help develop a nuclear power industry in the Philippines after both countries signed an agreement Nov. 17 during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking Friday during the meeting, said, “The United States will be able to share equipment and material with the Philippines as they work to develop small modular reactors and other civilian nuclear energy infrastructure.”

The Philippines is looking at nuclear power to help support the country’s energy independence, and to help meet decarbonization goals. Filipino officials have said they want to deploy nuclear power as a source of baseload electricity to replace generation from retiring coal-fired power plants.

“We see nuclear energy becoming a part of the Philippines’ energy mix by 2032 and we are more than happy to pursue this path with the United States,” said Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “Nuclear energy is one area where we can show the Philippines-U.S. alliance and partnership truly works.” Marcos Jr., son of former Filipino leader Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was elected president in 2022. The younger Marcos has said he also would look at restarting the 620-Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, a project abandoned in the 1980s. Energy analysts have said building new renewable power, and adding new nuclear projects, is more likely than revisiting the Bataan facility.

President Biden and other U.S. officials are among representatives of more than 20 countries at this week’s APEC event. Negotiations between the U.S. and the Philippines regarding nuclear power have been ongoing since late last year. The U.S. Congress must still approve the deal, which calls for a transfer of equipment and materials, along with information, related to nuclear power.

Officials said that the U.S. as of the end of last year had more than 20 nuclear power agreements with nearly 50 countries.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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