DOE urged to put flesh to vow of scrapping coal plants
The Department of Energy (DOE) should make good its promise to put a halt to new coal projects and push forward in this direction by clipping the life of currently operating plants and retiring aging ones, according to the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED).
The environmentalist think tank said in a statement the moratorium on greenfield coal projects “signals the country’s first step in exiting coal” and would help efforts to build a more sustainable power system resilient to structural changes and flexible to new, indigenous and cleaner technological innovations.
“While it has yet to release an official order, the DOE’s pronouncements on the moratorium coverage so far should shelve nine coal projects with a total capacity of 5.6 GW [or 5,600 megawatts], comprising 40 percent of all pipeline coal capacity,” CEED said.
The group urged the DOE to expand the moratorium to cover the remaining 8,100 MW of new coal-fired capacity already in the pipeline.
“Many of these projects have not or have barely started construction due to the pandemic and yearslong resistance from impacted communities, electricity consumers, and other stakeholders,” CEED noted.
The DOE has yet to flesh out the new policy direction— the moratorium on coal projects—that Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi first made public in a speech delivered on Tuesday during the during the second Global Ministerial Conference on System Integration of Renewables hosted in Singapore.
However, energy officials have clarified that the moratorium simply meant the DOE would no longer accept applications for new projects while those that the DOE has already endorsed could still proceed.
Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella told reporters that projects already “committed” and those that have secured environmental clearance certificates and other permits “are probably already endorsed [by the DOE] and thus may proceed.”
The CEED said the DOE’s next step following the announcement of the moratorium should be the mandatory retirement of operating old coal plants at the end of their economic life span.
The DOE should also impose an early retirement of newly operating coal plants by the end of this decade, which means a renegotiation of their power supply agreements.
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