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Green energy use to rise but coal to remain necessary

/ 05:07 AM September 04, 2019

Fossil fuel-based power generation is going to fade as expected amid steep dives in the cost of renewable energy technology, but coal—along with gas—will remain necessary for decades to come, according to the latest annual forecast of BloombergNEF.

The research firm—which has regional offices in New York, London and Tokyo—discussed this in a forum held yesterday at the Bonifacio Global City, even as anticoal activists demanded the government to impose a ban on new coal power plants.

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BNEF’s New Energy Outlook 2019 shows that renewables like solar and wind power will follow the international trend of falling costs, but coal will remain the biggest contributor of electricity in the Philippines for at least two more decades.

The research firm projects that wind and solar will be capable of reaching 80 percent of the electricity generation mix “in a number of countries by mid-century, with the help of batteries [for storing unused power].”

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However, beyond an 80-percent share will be difficult and will need contribution from other technologies such as nuclear, biogas-to-power, green hydrogen-to-power and carbon capture and storage—the last one being an advocacy of the coal industry.

Caroline Chua, BloombergNEF’s energy analyst for Southeast Asia, said the power generation mix in the Philippines changed significantly from one dominated by coal to one where renewables and gas played major roles.

“By 2050, wind and solar will provide 46 percent of total electricity [in the Philippines] with other renewables providing a further 11 percent,” Chua said. “We expect only 43 percent of the country’s electricity production to result from burning fossil fuels by 2050, down from 78 percent today.

Still, she said coal-fired power generation would see a steady increase and remain the largest single source of electricity until 2041, although coal would reach its peak in 2034.

“By 2050, the Philippines will still have almost as much coal-fired generation as today,” Chua said. “While new renewables beat coal on a new-build basis, existing coal is relatively new and cheap to run.”

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