Meralco seeks USTDA grant for nuclear feasibility study

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is seeking financing support from the US government for a feasibility study for the development of nuclear energy in the country.

Meralco is looking at nuclear power, particularly small modular reactors (SMRs), as part of its adoption of next generation clean energy technologies.

“We are applying for a grant with the USTDA to do a feasibility study for SMR,” Meralco president and chief executive officer Ray Espinosa said.

“So it is in process. But we’re looking into nuclear,” he said.

SMRs, which have a capacity between 50 megawatts (MW) and 300 MW, are faster to build compared to large nuclear plants and can be deployed to off-grid areas for a more reliable source of electricity.

Meralco believes SMRs are more suited for the country, instead of conventional type of nuclear power plant.

In 2020, Meralco affiliate PLDT Inc.  signed a $1-million grant agreement with the USTDA to accelerate the transformation of its digital transport network through a new training program.

The USTDA helps companies create US jobs through the export of US goods and services for priority infrastructure projects in emerging economies.

It links US businesses to export opportunities by funding project preparation and partnership building activities that  develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in partner countries.

The Philippines and the US has started negotiations on a civil nuclear cooperation agreement that will provide legal basis for US exports of nuclear equipment and material to the country.

This comes following the launch of “123 agreement” during the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris in the Philippines last month.

Nuclear energy is among the technologies being explored by the country, but it is still considered as a long term option for the Philippines for power generation.

Department of Energy Undersecretary Sharon Garin earlier said that from feasibility up to the development stage, nuclear energy would take time because “this is a very sensitive issue and sensitive technology.”

Garin said among the potential sites being considered for SMRs are in Mindanao and Palawan.

The Philippines currently has a national position when it comes to the development or the introduction of nuclear energy in the country following the the issuance last February of Executive Order 164 by former president Rodrigo Duterte.

EO 164 recognizes nuclear energy as “a reliable, cost-competitive, and environment-friendly source of energy.”


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