Photo courtesy: Earth.Org

By Junex Doronio

TO REALIZE HIS DREAM for small nuclear power plants, billionaire Manny V. Pangilinan has revealed that Meralco has launched a scholarship program that will send Filipinos abroad to study nuclear energy.

At the same time, the visionary entrepreneur on Monday, September 11, assured the public that safety is a priority hence the need for a study as he also brushed off fears of nuclear accidents.

“Chernobyl doesn’t help, Fukushima didn’t help, but we have to consider that because we also are sensitively active archipelago,” stressed Pangilinan who chairs the Meralco, Metro Manila’s only electric power distributor.

It can be recalled that on April 26, 1986, the Number Four RBMK reactor at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, went out of control during a test at low-power, leading to an explosion and fire that demolished the reactor building and released large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.

The official death toll directly attributed to Chernobyl that is recognized by the international community was only 31 people although the United Nations expressed belief that it could be 50 individuals.

On the other hand, Wikipedia said the Fukushima nuclear disaster was a major nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Fukushima, Japan which began on March 11, 2011.

The cause of nuclear accident was the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which resulted in grid failure and damaged nearly all of the power plant’s backup energy sources.

A total of 19,759 people reportedly died, majority of whom were drowned by tsunami waves, while 6,167 were injured.

At Meralco-organized Giga Summit in Rockwell in Makati, Pangilinan also disclosed that they would conduct a feasibility study to venture into micro modular reactors (MMR), which are essentially smaller nuclear plants that only need a smaller area and usually are for targeted areas.

“It’s anywhere between 5 to 15MW (megawatts). So if you want a big plant like 150 [MW] you need several of their reactors in one place. It’s really meant for island provinces or island cities, data centers, for desalination,” Pangilinan bared.

He added that since it is modular, it’s much smaller and it is also scalable.

It was learned that scalability refers to the ability of an organization to perform well under an increased or expanding workload.

Pangilinan, however, admitted that he still doesn’t know the investment price tag and how much the electricity rate will be.

He hastened to add that it will depend on the feasibility study. (ai/mnm)