The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), which provides electricity to the Philippine capital and several surrounding provinces, is contemplating the use of small modular reactor (SMR) technology. The move seeks to augment its aging power generation equipment, as well as deliver a more sustainable form of energy production for the country.
Meralco executives are currently in talks with possible technology partners in the United States as a preparatory move toward applying for a grant to conduct a feasibility study on how SMRs could fit into the Philippine power situation.
One of the company’s senior officials expressed hopes that the size, portability, and reliability of SMRs could be a suitable choice for the country, given its archipelagic topography.
A Timely Move
Meralco’s exploration into the use of nuclear technology for general power generation is seen as a timely one in light of recent announcements from the national government concerning the search for alternatives to conventional power generation.
A substantial increase in power demand has put a strain on the Philippines’ power distributors. Earlier this year, several urban and provincial utility providers needed to implement rotational brownouts throughout the dry season and several instances when power plants malfunctioned.
Much like the rest of the world, the Philippines continues to reel from the upsurge in the price of fuel due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
While wind farms in the northern part of the country have been in use for some time now. Even if a number of homes have opted to install solar panels to decrease their reliance on the national power grid, the use of nuclear power remains a point of debate for many Filipinos.
Not the First Time
This is not the first time a Philippine energy utility has considered a shift to nuclear energy.
The controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) was built in 1984 but came under fire due to concerns that it was not compliant with a number of international safety standards and that its location was directly above a fault line.
By 1986, following the revolution that brought Corazon Aquino into power and the disastrous meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Soviet Union, the initiative halted.
Today, even as some officials have called upon the national government to add the BNPP to the country’s power grid, experts have cautioned against it as no one is sure if the equipment within remains viable.