PH to rely on coal-fired plants amid green energy push

PH to rely on coal-fired plants amid green energy push

MANILA — The Philippines will exhaust currently operating coal-fired plants as the plan to increase renewable energy’s share in the power generation mix remains at a standstill.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla bared on Wednesday the government’s move to continue relying on coal plants to ensure the country has until 2030 enough baseload capacity, or power that can readily be injected into the transmission system to meet demand.

During an energy forum in Makati City, the official said that while he sees a “massive room” for growth for renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, its current contribution to the power mix remained sluggish at 22 percent. The figure is far from the goal of hitting 35 percent in six years.


Coal, on the other hand, is still a dominant power contributor, supplying 62 percent of the country’s needs.


Lotilla said that while his department continued to maintain a moratorium on the development of new coal plants, exemptions were in place “for committed, indicative, and expansion plans.”

READ: Coal-fired generators still Philippines’ top source of electricity

The moratorium was issued in late 2020 as part of efforts to cut dependence on coal and reduce the country’s greenhouse emissions.

“[W]e do not set aside our responsibility to ensure adequate baseload capacities in conjunction with our push to increase [renewable energy] share in the power mix,” he said.

Lotilla noted that the country still has more than 6,300 megawatts (MW) of dependable coal capacity aged 10 years or younger.

Less cost burden on the economy, consumers

“These plants can be relied on to operate for at least another 30 years. Moreover, over 3,400 MW of dependable coal capacities are between 10 and 30 years old, allowing for at least a further 10 years of operation,” the Energy secretary said, adding:


“Maximizing the use of existing energy infrastructure avoids placing an added cost burden on both the economy and consumers.”

By 2028, the Department of Energy expects power generators to produce about 2,255 MW of additional coal supply—part of the government’s target to add a total capacity of 11,000 MW. Lotilla said this would help the country address the projected peak demand growth of 5.3 percent from 2023 to 2028.

READ: To hit an ambitious energy mix goal, PH needs 53,000 MW of clean power

Gerry Arances, convenor of Power for People Coalition, said the DOE’s continued utilization of “young” coal plants was “a classic example of the sunk cost fallacy.”

“Continuing to use coal is an irrational decision considering the magnitude of its impact [on] the climate emergency and the exorbitant charges inflicted on consumers,” he said in a statement.

In a related development, Aboitiz Power Corp (AboitizPower) Thermal Business Group said Wednesday that power supply challenges remained, especially in Cebu, with about 60 percent of its electricity needs still being imported.

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The company said it was planning to boost its Therma Visayas (TVI) coal-fired power plant in Toledo, Cebu with a new unit, which would add 150 MW into the Visayas grid.

TAGS: green energy, renewable energy

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