Manila Electric Co (Meralco), in partnership with US-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp (USNC), is to proceed with a formal feasibility study for development of micro modular reactors following the completion of its pre-feasibility study. Meralco and USNC completed the prefeasibility study within the Meralco franchise area for the possible deployment of micro modular reactor (MMR) and fully ceramic micro-encapsulated (FCM) nuclear fuel technologies.

According to Meralco chief operating officer Ronnie Aperocho they are “progressing already” with the study, which is scheduled for completion in about six months. “On the formal feasibility study, we will need to deep dive more on the financial safety and other very important parameters as well as on the site-specific study like where do we install these micro modular reactors,” he said. He added that Meralco is working with policymakers, especially the Philippines Department of Energy (DOE). “We’re very transparent about the studies that we’re doing and they’re (DOE) part of the next steps, especially on the site selection,” he noted.

Meralco Chairman & CEO Manuel V Pangilinan said the pre-feasibility studies had resulted in five locations being selected for the development of micro modular reactors. The locations will be subject to geological studies which should be complete by 2028.

“Our goal is to be able to start an operational plant perhaps in one of the island provinces to produce power and demonstrate that it’s a safe mode of producing power,” Pangilinan said. He added that USNC and other foreign contractors would assist with construction of the plant.

Meralco and USNC signed a cooperative agreement in November 2023 to study the deployment of one or more micro modular reactor systems in the Philippines. “It is important that we start today with a fairly modest proof-of-concept plan and they’re prepared to do that, whatever the size might be – five, 10 megawatts – and located in a safe place,” Pangilinan said.

Image: Cutaway image of a USNC MMR module (courtesy of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp)