The Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), the Philippines’ largest distribution utility, said it is open to tapping electricity from nuclear power sources to address the perennial supply shortages that hit the county, particularly when demand peaks every summer.
MERALCO President and CEO Atty. Ray Espinosa warned, though, that the transition to nuclear power would need long-term preparation and planning with such program having been dormant for decades.
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant has been mothballed since the ouster of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
While Atty. Espinosa said that the power giant is looking at the possibility of drawing electricity from nuclear, it recognizes that there is a host of requirements — such as international certifications and legal conditions — that have to be met to become a nuclear-powered country.
He added that advanced modular reactors would serve as a good source of electricity since nuclear facilities fit the country’s archipelagic nature, and that these can be built in the different regions.
Additional details on the plan were not disclosed.
The Department of Energy has been pushing for the inclusion of nuclear power in the Philippines’ energy mix in a bid to reduce carbon emissions from thermal power plants, which still dominate the country’s power generation portfolio.
Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi recently batted again for nuclear to cut on fuel imports amid rising oil prices. Back in August, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute Director Carlo Arcilla positioned nuclear energy as a form of renewable energy during an online forum.
Aside from power distribution, MERALCO is also into power generation through subsidiary MERALCO PowerGen Corporation (MGen), which in turn owns Global Business Power Corporation (GBP). MGen owns the 500-megawatt San Buenaventura coal power plant in Mauban, Quezon, while GBP has assets in Mindoro, Visayas, and Mindanao.