Open Letter to President Rodrigo R. Duterte

January 20, 2019

President Rodrigo R. Duterte

Malacanan

JP Laurel Street, San Miguel

Manila 1005, NCR, Philippines

Dear President Duterte,

We are writing as concerned scientists, environmentalists, and global citizens to encourage you to support the inclusion of nuclear energy in your pursuit of clean energy. We applaud your efforts to increase the share of electricity in the Philippines that comes from clean, reliable, and secure energy sources.

While the Philippines benefits significantly from geothermal energy, the share of electricity it generates from clean energy sources has fallen from 55 percent in 1986 to 25 percent in 2017. The reason was that most of the growth of the country’s energy supply was met by fossil fuels.[1]

Now, Philippines is at risk of increasing its dependence on the dirtiest fossil fuel, coal. It is currently the largest source of electricity in the country, and is expected to grow significantly. About half of the coal Philippines consumes is imported at a cost of about ₱50 billion ($1 billion) a year.[2] The Philippines has the 16th most expensive electricity out of 44 nations, according to a 2016 study by Manila Electric Co.[3]

We encourage the Philippines to consider using nuclear to reduce its reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. In 1963, the Philippines received a research reactor from the U.S. under President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program, and from 1976 until 1984, the Philippines built the Bataan nuclear power plant in Luzon, but never started it. The plant has been maintained over the years and thus with a refurbishment could be operational within a few years. Doing so would be a positive next step to making nuclear energy a key source of electricity for the Philippines.

Few people realize that nuclear energy is the safest way to produce reliable electricity.[4] The reason for this is because it does not create outdoor air pollution, which kills 4.2 million people a year.[5] In fact, nuclear power has saved over 1.8 million lives by preventing the burning of biomass and fossil fuels.[6]

Nuclear power also protects the natural environment by requiring far less land and resources than other energy sources — an especially important attribute for the Philippines, a biodiversity hotspot. Due to the energy density of nuclear fuel, coastal nuclear plants in the Philippines would require 180 times less land[7] and 17 times less construction material than solar.[8]

Had the 71 terawatt-hours of fossil fuel electricity that Philippines consumed in 2017[9] been provided instead by solar farms like the nation’s largest in Cadiz City, a land area the size of Metropolitan Manila would be required — and at a cost of ₱4 trillion ($80 billion).[10] And because of the inconsistent nature of solar energy, which would only generate about 20% of the electricity implied by its installation size[11], a major expansion of solar or wind in the Philippines would require the continued operation of expensive backup fossil fuel plants.

Wind power fares scarcely better on the basis of either footprint or cost, while also posing significant danger to bats and migrating birds. To replace just the quantity of the Philippine’s fossil electricity production from 2017, 193 wind farms the size of the largest in the country would need to be constructed, covering 1320 square kilometers and at a scaled cost of ₱4.5 trillion ($87 billion).[12]

Because uranium is so energy dense, nuclear plants create very small amounts of waste. For example, all of the used fuel ever produced in the United States can fit in a thirty-foot stack on a football field.[13] And unlike every other method of producing electricity, nuclear power is the only way that safely manages and pays for its waste.

Though clean energy is important in protecting our shared atmosphere, reliable energy is especially important for island nations, as coal and most natural gas must be imported. This means that unfavorable international developments in world markets or in surrounding territorial waters can become threatening to prosperity and stability. Nuclear energy offers the ability to store many years of fuel, thus providing economic and physical security of supply.

We encourage you to compare the advantages and disadvantages of different clean energy technologies as you develop a future for your country. We believe that nuclear energy can be the vital link between nature, prosperity, and peace in the Philippines.

Signed,

Michael Shellenberger, Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” President of Environmental Progress

Dr. James Hansen, Climate Scientist, Earth Institute, Columbia University

Dr. Tom Wigley, Climate and Energy Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

Dr. Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden. Winner of the National Medal of Science, 2001

Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Joe Lassiter, Professor, Harvard Business School

Dr. Michelle Marvier, Professor, Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University

Dr. David Lea, Professor, Earth Science, University of California

Dr. Barry Brook, Professor of Environmental Sustainability, University of Tasmania

Dr. Paul Robbins, Director, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Richard Rhodes, author, Pulitzer Prize-winner, The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Dr. Gerry Thomas, Professor of Molecular Pathology, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London

Dr. Philip Thomas, Professor of Risk Management, University of Bristol

Dr. Wade Allison, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Oxford University

________________

[1] Data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2018

[2] Data from MIT’s Atlas of Economic Complexity, for year 2016. Available: https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/phl/

[3] Manolo Serapio Jr and Enrico Dela Cruz, “In power hungry Philippines, some advocate a nuclear revival,” Reuters, May 22, 2018

[4] Markandya, A., & Wilkinson, P. “Electricity Generation and Health,” The Lancet, 370 (9591), p. 979-990, 2007.

[5] World Health Organization (WHO), 2016. https://www.who.int/airpollution/en/

[6] Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen, “Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power,” Environmental Science and Technology, 2013

[7] Comparison between a facility like Bataan Nuclear Plant if operated, and assumed production from Cadiz City solar farm. If operated at 85% capacity factor, Bataan’s 570 megawatt (net) capacity would produce 4.3 terawatt-hours per year on an approximate land area of 0.2 square kilometers, for a density of 21.6 terawatt-hours per square kilometer. Cadiz City as detailed in (8) has a power density of 0.12 terawatt-hours per square kilometer.

[8] “Quadrennial Technology Review: An Assessment of Energy Technologies and Research Opportunities,” United States Department of Energy, Table 10, 2015.

[9] BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2018

[10] Details on the solar farm near Cadiz City from Ellera, T., “Unveiling of P10-B solar plant set March 3,” Sun Star Bacolod, February 12, 2016.

Calculation assumes production factor of 15% for installed solar capacity (DC) in the Visayas; measured solar farm area of 1.48 km; solar farm capacity of 132.5 megawatts (DC); and reported solar farm price of ₱10 billion.

[11] Iban Vendrell, “Philippine solar resource characterization, challenges and implications for the sector”, Presentation at 2015 Asia Solar Energy Forum. Available:https://tinyurl.com/ycbochz3

[12] Burgos Wind Farm in northern Luzon is expected to produce 370 gigawatt-hours per year of electricity while covering 6.86 square kilometers, with an estimated construction cost of $450 million: “Burgos Wind Project, Ilocos Norte”, Power Technology.

[13] “Safely Managing Used Nuclear Fuel”, Nuclear Energy Institute.

Save French Nuclear Power! Meeting to Plan Spring Action in Paris

Save French Nuclear Power!

Meeting to Plan Spring Action in Paris

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Meeting: 10:00 to 16:00 :: Cocktails: 17:00 :: Dinner 18:00

NuclearPrideFest-Vector.jpg

What: Meeting hosted by the Nuclear Pride Coalition to organize pro-nuclear public action in Paris in Spring 2019 to protest proposed nuclear plant closures.

Why: The French government could close 14 nuclear reactors to make way for natural gas and renewables which would increase electricity prices and air pollution.

How: Email madison@environmentalprogress.org if you are interested in helping to organize the public action and would like to attend the Saturday February 9 planning meeting.

All are welcome. This will be a meeting for all people regardless of political persuasion.

Travel scholarships available for students and low-income individuals.

Action organized by Nuclear Pride Coalition and co-sponsored by Les Voix du Nucléaire (“Voices of Nuclear,” France); Environmentalists for Nuclear (France); Saving Our Planet (France-UK-Norway); Stitching Ecomodernisme (“Ecomodernist Society,” Netherlands); Environmental Progress (U.S.); Partei der Humanisten (Germany); Mothers for Nuclear (Switzerland); Nuklearia (Germany); Ökomoderne (“Ecomodernist Society”, Germany); Students for Nuclear(U.S.).

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Nuclear power is in trouble. What should be done? The conventional wisdom holds that a techno-fix, like a radically new design, or new construction techniques, will save nuclear. But such a view assumes that nuclear’s underlying problems are technical. They’re not. Public acceptance remains the main obstacle to the future of nuclear. How can public acceptance be addressed? And what role in particular might women have to play? In this talk to Women in Nuclear, Canada, EP President Michael Shellenberger offers suggestions.

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Friends!

I’m very happy to invite you to attend a historic, pro-nuclear power demonstration in Munich, Germany, on Sunday, October 21, from 10 am to 4 pm!

The official name of the event is the “Nuclear Pride Fest,” and its founding purpose is to save and expand nuclear energy in Europe. The Fest will be held in Marienplatz, Munich’s central plaza.

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The Finnish Green Party adopted a new program on June 19, 2018 under the leadership of MP Olli-Poika Parviainen. 

With regard to nuclear energy, and for the first time in Europe, this green party is now "open to all research and development on low-carbon technologies that respect the environment. The most recent nuclear projects in Finland have been slow and problematic. We do not want it to start over again. "

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New Jersey’s passage today of legislation to prevent the premature closure of the state’s nuclear plants is another crucial victory to save America’s largest source of clean energy.

Climate and environmental scientists organized by Environmental Progress urged New Jersey’s Governor Philip Murphy to pass the legislation, and I testified in support of the legislation last December.

But the legislation’s passage came at a hefty price: 18 to 28 times more in subsidies for solar energy than will be received by nuclear plants.

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— Curb corruption with a New Sunshine Act that requires transparency into government contracting, permitting, regulating and other activities, and break up the corrupt California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC);

— Build abundant housing by up-zoning all cities and suburbs to allow modestly taller buildings, and by closing the loophole in the state’s most important environmental law (CEQA) that allows interest groups to file expensive and frivolous lawsuits anonymously and repeatedly;

Create high-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, biotech, and innovative agriculture by leveraging the state's research universities and community colleges in partnership with new and modernized industries and capturing scale-ups from R&D;

— End poverty by raising the minimum wage, embracing automation, including the autonomous vehicle revolution, and mandating high school and college apprenticeship partnerships with advanced manufacturing and other industries;

— Personalize and modernize education by establishing a 9-to-5 school day that results in the elimination of homework for students, and of schoolwork for teachers; an incremental lengthening of the school year; and unleashing the special talents of all students through digital instruction and teacher tutoring;

— Make property taxes fair and sustainable by empowering a representative “citizens jury” to undergo a year-long evidence-based deliberation that culminates in an amendment to California’s constitution;

— Establish and enforce the principle of universal worker rights for all social classes by demanding the federal government create a path to citizenship for a labor force lacking political rights and power; reforming public pension obligations; and making pension contributions the responsibility of future public employees.

This plan can unify workers, employers, and taxpayers. Workers will benefit from higher wages and cheaper housing. Employers benefit from being able to grow their high-wage and high skill business in California. And Baby Boomer homeowners will benefit from the creation of housing their children and grandchildren can afford.  This coalition should be enough to overcome well-funded interest groups. School teachers, principals, and parents will benefit from a modernized school day and year, higher pay, and better outcomes. The labor unions whose members lack housing they can afford greatly outnumber the small number of unions opposing CEQA reform. And pro-density environmentalists are younger and growing in power over anti-development NIMBYs.

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The increases came despite 2017 having the highest output of hydroelectricity — the state’s cheapest source of electricity — since 2011.

Electricity prices in the rest of the United States outside California rose two percent, the same as the rate of inflation. 

Between 2011 and 2017, California’s electricity prices rose five times faster than they did nationally. Today, Californians pay 60 percent more, on average, than the rest of the nation, for resident, commercial and industrial electricity. 

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