Next admin told: drop ‘baseload-centric’ power policies
Manila-based policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) on Wednesday called on the country’s next set of leaders to veer away from the “baseload-centric” power generation in the country.
According to Alberto Dalusung III, ICSC’s transition adviser and former director for energy planning of the Department of Energy (DOE), the country’s source of power must be diversified in order to avoid the annual rotational brownouts and blackouts, noting that the current power plants continue to fail to meet Filipinos’ growing power consumption.
Moreover, the skyrocketing prices of gasoline and diesel in the past weeks because of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine also affected coal prices which is the primary fuel used in many local power plants.
ICSC chief data scientist Jephraim Manansala said coal prices have already doubled to $450 (P23,400) per metric ton. The brunt of higher production costs is expected to be transferred to consumers once they pay their electric bills.
“We’ve always had this problem, even before the pandemic. In fact, we experienced the same problem in the 1970s during the oil embargo. Because of the oil crisis, we developed geothermal and hydropower plants. Yet now, renewable energy’s share is down to 21 percent while coal now is at 54 percent of our energy mix,” Dalusung said.
“The lack of energy security has a massive economic impact. Bringing in more renewable energy also makes power more affordable,” he added.
Citing DOE figures, Manansala said the country may experience thin operating reserves beginning in the third week of April until the last week of May this year which could affect the oncoming national polls.
To avoid expected outages during the period, Manansala said the DOE is banking on “very optimistic assumptions” that all power plants will run efficiently. But over the past years, this has not been the case.
Dalusung said demand-side management, installation of solar rooftops, and the implementation of the interruptible load program are the quickest and most realistic options to ensure energy security.
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