Meralco nears completion of nuclear plant feasibility study

Meralco announced Tuesday that it is almost done with its feasibility study for developing micro modular reactors, also known as nuclear batteries.

During the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, Meralco Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ronnie Aperocho stated that the study is being conducted with a U.S.-based nuclear company partner and focuses on safety, financial, and site selection parameters.

“Our goal is to build a micro modular reactor with a capacity of 5 to 15 megawatts and have some sort of proof of concept that will help us convince the Filipino people that nuclear energy is a safe, reliable, cheap, and clean source of base load power which our country badly needs,” ABS-CBN News.com quoted  Aperocho as saying.

Lat year, Meralco Chairman Manny Pangilinan explained that these smaller nuclear plants are intended for island provinces, island cities, and data centers.

Unlike the full-sized Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, these micro modular reactors offer more flexibility.

Aperocho added that Meralco is also investing in building the capabilities of Filipinos in operating these reactors by providing scholarships focused on nuclear engineering. For the pilot program, five Meralco engineers will be sent abroad for academic and internship programs, with plans to include government representatives in future slots.

In 2023, Meralco signed an agreement with Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), a U.S.-based firm specializing in Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR) Energy Systems, to explore deploying these systems in the Philippines. The agreement was signed during the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit, witnessed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

USNC’s MMR, described as the first “fission battery” set for commercialization, can generate between 3.5 to 15 MW of electricity. Multiple MMR units can be deployed to meet various power needs, combining their output in a heat storage unit for extraction through conventional means. This is a stark contrast to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant’s 620 MW capacity.

Meralco’s agreement with USNC aims to examine the environmental and social impacts, technical and siting requirements, and commercial viability of deploying nuclear batteries in the Philippines. This initiative supports the government’s push to diversify the country’s energy mix and promote energy stability and security.

“The agreement paves the way for advanced nuclear technology to diversify the country’s energy sources and promote energy stability and security,” Meralco stated.

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