PH not ready yet to get rid of coal-fired plants, says AboitizPower chief | Inquirer Business
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PH not ready yet to get rid of coal-fired plants, says AboitizPower chief

/ 04:05 AM September 20, 2021

The Philippines might continue to rely on coal-fired power plants in the next 25 years even as the government and energy companies are revving up efforts in the transition to clean energy, according to Aboitiz Power Inc.

Technologies that could provide alternative baseload supply were still emergent and have yet to reach maturity, said Emmanuel Rubio, president and chief executive of AboitizPower, which earlier announced plans to spend P190 billion in the next 10 years to expand its renewable energy portfolio by 3,700 megawatts. “Being a developing country, coal is today still the most economical and economically viable option [for the Philippines] to meet our energy needs. It’s reliable and cost-competitive,” Rubio said in a Sept. 17 webinar hosted by the Philippine Infrastructure and Construction Club.

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Rubio said that over the last 10 years, the Philippines has seen a considerable increase in electricity demand, which was met with coal-based power supply from the Aboitiz group and other industry players.

Data from the Department of Energy showed that from 2005 to 2020, the share of coal-fired power plants in total power generation capacity jumped to 43.8 percent (10,245 megawatts) from 25.2 percent (3,432 MW). Coal-based plants run round the clock as baseload facilities to cover the minimum demand while renewable energy facilities are dispatched midmerit to augment the baseload output when consumption picks up.

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“We are committed to supporting the country’s economic growth by ensuring that we have adequate and affordable energy,” he said. “But even with a baseload portfolio—consisting mostly of coal, although we also have geothermal—we have always been pushing for environmental sustainability.”

AboitizPower vowed its coal-fired plants were fully compliant with applicable environmental regulations and that technologies were being used to significantly reduce the assets’ carbon footprint.

“We know that our coal assets are exposed to increases in insurance premiums and we [recognize that] no new coal plants might be built due to lack of financing,” Rubio said.

“But the existing ones, the country will continue to need them,” he said. “Considering the life expectancy of these facilities, including the new ones, they will probably be needed in the next 20 to 25 years given that the country will continue to need reliable and affordable power.” INQ

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