(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines’ biggest private electric distribution utility, Manila Electric Co., also known as Meralco, is looking at nuclear power to replace LNG in the long term as a source of carbon-free energy.

“After liquefied natural gas, we’re not sure what technology will be there to supply carbon-free baseload power,” said Lawrence Fernandez, head of utility economics at Meralco. “Nuclear is one, so that’s why we are starting.” 

The Philippines hopes to have renewables providing 35% of the country’s energy by 2030 and 50% in 2040. However, coal still dominates the electricity mix with a share of nearly 44% as of 2023, according to government data.

Displacing carbon with nuclear energy in the archipelago will face regulatory challenges. The Philippines doesn’t have a legal framework for nuclear feedstock imports, nor for the licensing of nuclear engineers, Fernandez said.

Nevertheless, the utility has sought to train its engineers by sending them to countries where the sector is mature, including Canada, the US and France, Fernandez said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to build in time a pool of engineers that can serve in a future nuclear energy sector,” he added.

The power distributor’s plans underscore the renewed global interest in nuclear energy, with countries including Japan, Korea, Germany and India considering its adoption despite safety concerns.

--With assistance from Stephen Stapczynski and Ditas Lopez.

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