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ABAC Ph, Canada back Nuclear Energy Inclusion to APEC’s diverse energy mix

Nuclear Energy Inclusion to APEC
ENGAGING IN ECONOMIC TRANSITION: Industry leaders and experts from around the Asia Pacific region gathered together on October 24 for a roundtable discussion on Nuclear Energy Transition. In photo (from left, first row) Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin Aboitiz; Department of Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla; President and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade Jan De Silva; Chief Nuclear Officer at Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation Daniel Stout; (from left, second row) Aboitiz Group Chief Reputation and Sustainability Officer Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar; Ruth Yu-Owen, Vice President of the Philippine Energy Efficiency Alliance; AboitizPower Thermal Business Group Chief Operating Officer Felino "Lino" Bernardo; AboitizPower Vice President for Corporate Affairs Suiee Suarez; (from left, third row) Executive Vice President of Nuclear Canada at AtkinsRéalis Gary Rose; President and CEO of Bruce Power Michael Rencheck; Director of the Nuclear Energy Policy Initiative at the Atlantic Council Dr. Jennifer Gordon; Senior Researcher at The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan Kenji Kimura; (from left, fourth row) Chief Nuclear Officer at Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation Jose Reyes; ABAC Philippines Patrick Chua; and Chief Engineer for Nuclear Power at the State Power Investment Corporation Mingguang Zheng.

The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Philippines and ABAC Canada have received backing for the integration of nuclear energy into the energy mix to meet rising energy demands in the APEC region. The ABAC Nuclear Energy Transition roundtable hosted extensive discussions on funding mechanisms and the viability of nuclear energy as a sustainable option.

These discussions mark the initial phase of the initiative. The roundtable served as a preparatory platform to strengthen the presentation by the ABAC Sustainable Growth Working Group on the potential of nuclear energy. The insights shared by industry leaders will be highlighted at the upcoming ABAC 4 meetings in November in San Francisco, USA.

Vice Chair of the ABAC Sustainable Growth Working Group and Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin Aboitiz opened the roundtable, highlighting the significance of a nuclear energy roadmap leading to an innovative project in the coming years. As ABAC Member to the Philippines, Aboitiz is encouraging discussions among industry leaders so they can provide guidance on important policy matters that greatly impact the economic advancement of the region.

“We aim to craft tangible outcomes that are both actionable and visionary. The output of today’s discourse will be inputs to a proposed nuclear energy cooperation framework.” said Aboitiz.

“This will not only reflect the shared intellect and aspirations of this working group but will serve as a precursor to a more ambitious undertaking — envisioning a nuclear energy roadmap that could culminate into a groundbreaking project in the near future,” added Aboitiz.

Toronto Region Board of Trade President and CEO and ABAC Canada member Jan De Silva emphasized the increasing collective interest in either introducing or scaling nuclear energy as part of every country’s energy mix. She highlighted that the primary advantage of ABAC lies in its ability to leverage the expertise of leaders from various economies to bring valuable insights to the table.

“The transition to a low-carbon future is expected to be the largest economic transition in history, with 50% of this to be driven by energy. In the move to decarbonize and boost energy security and independence, attention has returned to nuclear as a scalable solution. One that is able to produce carbon-free power for a range of industrial, and other energy-intensive activities that are difficult to fully electrify,” said De Silva.

“[In Ontario], 92% of our electricity is produced from zero carbon sources, of which Nuclear (energy) represents almost 60%. Since our first nuclear roundtable in June, our government has announced its largest-ever nuclear energy expansion in our history… Our government sees Nuclear (Energy) as the most scalable clean energy solution to meet our growing need for electrification,” she added.

The keynote message was delivered by Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla, shedding light on the Philippine government’s dedication to a sustainable future. He emphasized the importance of adopting technological advancements in clean and alternative energy sources for improved energy security, stability, reliability, and affordability for the Philippines.

“We in the Philippines foresee off-shore winds, Nuclear (Energy) and other emerging technologies, accounting for the increase in power capacities at around 19,000 megawatts. The entry of these emerging technologies in the energy mix will complement the country’s energy transition. New nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors can bolster the role of Nuclear Power in our energy mix.” said Sec. Lotilla.

“Specifically, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has given instructions for us to ramp up efforts to diversify the country’s energy sources. This would of course include Nuclear Power and an openness to other alternative energy sources.” he shared.

There were also discussions among industry experts in different APEC economies, covering a wide range of subjects and policies. The first session focused on the importance of Collaboration and Financing for Nuclear Energy Transition. The panelists include Felino “Lino” Bernardo, Thermal Business Group Chief Operating Officer of Aboitiz Power; Michael Rencheck, President and CEO of Bruce Power; Gary Rose, Executive Vice President of Nuclear Canada at AtkinsRéalis; and Dr. Jennifer Gordon, Director of the Nuclear Energy Policy Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

During the discussion, Aboitiz Power Thermal Business Group COO Lino Bernardo highlighted that the transition to Nuclear Energy as a source, especially in the Philippines, holds significant potential, although there are still some opportunities for improvement and growth in regards to the regulations and the overall process.

“I believe that large nuclear, SMRs and even MMRs, have a place in our economy because we need all of them and we will need a lot of them. The developers will have to see what’s out there and match it with our current needs, and make sure that we are able to deliver them on time and safely,” said Bernardo.

The second session explored the vital elements of shifting to nuclear energy, such as the possibility of converting current coal-fired power plants into Nuclear Power Plants as well as the creation of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and Micro Modular Reactors (MMrs). The subject was expertly dealt with by panelists which include Dr. Kenji Kimura, Senior Researcher at The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan; Daniel Stout, Chief Nuclear Officer at Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation; Dr. José Reyes, Chief Technology Officer at NuScale Power Corporation; and Dr. Mingguang Zheng, Chief Engineer for Nuclear Power at the State Power Investment Corporation.

“There are multiple incentives, at least in the US, that are being moved forward and promoted, that represent billions of dollars worth of investments being put in by the government. So I think similar programs in other countries will be helpful if they do that. All these different features incentivize the movement of clean energy, particularly Nuclear,” Dr. José Reyes said on what would influence other countries to transition to Nuclear Energy.

The sessions were facilitated by Upgrade Energy Philippines President Ruth Yu-Owen and Aboitiz Power Vice President for Corporate Affairs Suiee Suarez. ABAC is embarking on a journey to explore nuclear energy and new technologies for a sustainable future.

About ABAC Philippines

APEC Leaders, in 1995, established the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) tasked to provide a private sector perspective towards achieving free and open trade and investments in the Asia Pacific region (Bogor goals). In 2020, Leaders adopted the Putrajaya Vision, for an open, dynamic, resilient, and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040, for the prosperity of all our people and future generations.

The Council had its first meeting and dialogue with the Leaders in 1996 when the Philippines first chaired APEC. Ambassador Roberto Romulo of the Philippines served as ABAC’s founding chairman.

Every year, ABAC submits a Report to APEC Leaders that outlines key recommendations focused on regional economic integration. ABAC also engages with Ministers, especially those responsible for Trade, Finance, SME, Energy, Food Security, Health, and Women to address urgent challenges.

ABAC Members representing the Philippines are Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin Aboitiz, Tomas Alcantara, Chair of ABAC Philippines, Joanne de Asis, Globe Capital Partners LLC Chairperson, Francis Chua, Founding Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, Philippines (ICCP), and Liveable Cities Challenge Chairman Guillermo Luz.

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