NuScale in talks with the Philippines on SMR deployment

02 May 2023

US small modular reactor (SMR) developer NuScale Power is interested in investing in the Philippines, the country's President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos said during a five-day visit to the USA. He said NuScale plans to conduct a siting study in the Philippines.

The meeting between NuScale representatives and the delegation from the Philippines (Image: Presidential Communications Office)

A meeting with NuScale was held in Washington, DC, on 1 May attended on the Philippine side by President Marcos, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Lagdameo, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil and Philippine Ambassador to the USA Jose Manuel Romualdez. Among the NuScale officials present were Clayton Scott, executive vice president for business, and Cheryl Collins, director for sales. NuScale was accompanied by Filipino partner Enrique Razon, representing Prime Infrastructure Capital Inc (Prime Infra).

The meeting followed initial discussions held in September last year in New York on the sidelines of Marcos's participation at the United Nations General Assembly.

Prime Infra has estimated that the future investment value of the project would be in the range of USD6.5-7.5 billion to provide 462 MW to the country by the early 2030’s.

Marcos said the Philippines "essentially has a shortfall in power supply" and the support of NuScale would help address this issue. "We need everything. We just have to have everything and this new technology is something."

In a statement issued by the House of Representatives, Romualdez said: "This positive development proves the unrelenting commitment of President Marcos to fulfill his promise to the Filipino people of ensuring the availability of cheap and reliable energy.

"Adequate and cheaper sources of power is crucial to sustaining our robust economic growth. But the president is very much aware that building additional energy generation capacity takes years to accomplish and it is prudent that we should continuously explore alternatives - including the use of nuclear power - to achieve this goal."

The NuScale Power Module is a pressurised water reactor (PWR) with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single unit, generating 77 MWe, which in September 2020 became the first SMR design to receive approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NuScale offers the units as VOYGR plants: a VOYGR-12 power plant comprising 12 modules is capable of generating 924 MWe. The company also offers four-module and six-module plants and other configurations based on customer needs.

NuScale is currently working with partners in the USA, Romania, Indonesia and Poland on projects to deploy its SMRs.

In response to the 1973 oil crisis, the Philippines decided to build the two-unit Bataan plant. Construction of Bataan 1 - a 621 MWe Westinghouse PWR - began in 1976 and it was completed in 1984 at a cost of USD460 million. However, due to financial issues and safety concerns related to earthquakes, the plant was never loaded with fuel or operated. The plant has since been maintained.

In March 2022, then President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order that outlined the government's position for the inclusion of nuclear energy in the Philippines' energy mix, taking into account economic, political, social and environmental objectives. President Marcos included new nuclear among his campaign pledges before winning the election in May last year.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News