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Meralco taps US company to study nuclear energy development in PHL

Meralco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan at the Giga Summit 2023

MANILA ELECTRIC CO. (Meralco), together with Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp., is set to conduct a pre-feasibility study on the potential development in the country of nuclear energy, particularly micromodular reactors, its top official said.

“We will start with pre-feasibility study, so that will take three months. The [full] feasibility will take another six months. Hopefully, by the middle [of next] year, we’ll have the feasibility, and we [will] share it with everybody, including the government,” Meralco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters on the sidelines of the Giga Summit 2023 on Monday.

The pre-feasibility study will cover financial, technical, safety, cost of power, and site proposal, he said.

Last month, Mr. Pangilinan said the company was considering nuclear energy as a long-term solution to the county’s power needs.

Several officials representing his group met with representatives of nuclear manufacturing plants during President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s state visit to the United States from April 30 to May 4.

Mr. Pangilinan previously said his team had signed a non-disclosure agreement with US-based Ultra Safe.

Last year, Meralco said it was applying for a grant from the US Trade and Development Agency to do a feasibility study on introducing nuclear energy in the Philippines that can provide up to 300 megawatts of power.

“Meralco, through Meralco Academy and as a company itself is indeed in favor of exploring nuclear power,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

Meanwhile, Meralco has launched a program called Filipino Scholars and Interns on Nuclear Engineering, or FISSION, to develop professionals who will help advance the integration of nuclear power in the country’s energy portfolio.

The two-year graduate program is scheduled to run from 2025 to 2027.

The company is eyeing to send the scholars to top global engineering universities, including the University of California in Berkeley, the University of Illinois, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and the Université Paris-Saclay.

The program will also include a one-year immersion and internship from 2027 to 2028 at partner small modular reactor facilities abroad such as Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and Ultra Safe.

Meralco said that the application process for the pilot batch of the program will open next year. Qualifications and other details of the program will be announced in the coming months.

On the stock exchange on Monday, shares of Meralco rose by P13.80 or 3.95% to close at P363 apiece.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

Neil Banzuelo

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