Meralco, Ultra Safe ink cooperation agreement on nuclear

At a glance

  • Meralco-USNC with BBM.jpg
  • Meralco and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp executives with President Marcos following the signing of their cooperation agreement on the targeted deployment of micro-modular reactor (MMR) for nuclear power in the Philippines.

Power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and US firm Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) have sealed cooperation agreement for the targeted rollout of micro modular reactor (MMR) pilot project in the Philippines.

According to the utility firm, the deal will warrant the conduct of a study that will pave the way for the installation of one or two MMRs that will serve as proof-of-concept if this technology would turn out to be a viable long-term solution for the country’s energy needs.

The cooperative agreement was signed between Meralco Executive Vice President and COO Ronnie L. Aperocho, who represented Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan; and USNC founder and CEO Francesco Venneri; and it was witnessed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the sidelines of the ongoing APEC Leaders’ Summit in San Francisco, California.

The MMR technology of Ultra Scale, Meralco said, is a fourth generation gas-cooled system – and it will be through the proposed demonstration plant that the utility firm has been intending to assess its deployment compatibility in the Philippine energy market.

As specified, the USNC MMR configuration could run on “high temperature helium-cooled micro reactor,” and the MMR unit or ‘nuclear battery’ can “safely and reliably provide up to 45 megawatts of thermal output (MWth) of high-quality heat, delivered into a centralized heat storage unit.”

The Meralco-USNC cooperation agreement sets forth the “conduct (of) a pre-feasibility study that will run for four (4) months to familiarize Meralco with MMR systems and how these can be effectively utilized in the Philippines.”

The utility firm indicated that “depending on the results of the pre-feasibility study, Meralco has the option to conduct a more detailed feasibility study with focus on the adoption and deployment of MMR energy systems.”

The power firm qualified that “the study will help Meralco in critical decisions and potential future activities on project-specific studies and project development plans at identified sites.”

In particular, the study “will assess financial, technical, safety, and siting, among other considerations. “

Pangilinan conveyed that “USNC is changing the nuclear safety and energy security conversations in the Philippines with these micro modular reactors.”

The newly cemented pact, he noted, “moves us forward with a partner who understands these important issues alongside the essential nature of the cost and reliability of the electricity supply.”

Venneri, for his part, asserted that “Meralco is demonstrating real leadership in advancing the energy security and sustainability roadmap for the Philippines,” with him emphasizing that “our MMR nuclear batteries can play a major role in delivering those benefits.”

It was highlighted that the agreement with the US firm will enable Meralco “to explore and utilize diverse energy sources for the benefit of Filipinos,” adding that “nuclear technology should be able to help us meet our country’s growing demand for energy, achieve energy independence, and transition towards a sustainable energy future,”

The siting of the proposed project is among the outcomes that Meralco would want to draw from the study – and that shall be anchored on the parameters that shall be laid down by the Department of Energy (DOE) as well as on the policies that will be enforced for the re-emerging nuclear power sector of the country.

When it comes to nuclear infrastructure buildout, the development milieu being advanced by the energy department would be ‘from cradle to grave’ precept – that way, it’s not only the actual project installations that shall be taken care of by project sponsors, but would also touch on the more contentious concern of eventual waste disposal.