Philippines slowing down on coal projects, targets more renewables

By: Marites Villamor Ilano October 11,2015 - 11:39 PM

The Philippines is slowing down on approving coal-fired power plant projects and pushing the development of renewable sources to achieve a balanced energy mix by 2030.

Energy Undersecretary Loreta G. Ayson said the target is to have an energy mix consisting of one-third coal, one-third natural gas, and one-third renewables.

“If we continue approving coal contracts, we might be largely dependent on coal,” she said  in a press briefing yesterday on the 12th APEC Energy Ministers’ Meeting.

“We want fuel diversification, which means we will have not only coal as fuel, but we will have as well natural gas and renewable energy. This means that we will not really be continuing so much in having coal contracts,” she added.

Ayson said reducing the country’s dependence on coal will be gradually done. As of 2011, coal accounted for more than a third, or 37 percent, of the country’s total power generation mix, Department of Energy (DOE) records showed.

“We cannot just say that we don’t like coal right now. No, we can’t do that. Otherwise, we will not have electricity that we need in our daily lives,” she said.

She said the DOE is working on a fuel mix policy for power generation to achieve a balance of all the energy resources being used.

At present, she said some coal plants are old and probably “need to retire.”

Under the Philippine Energy Plan for 2012 to 2030, the country aims to triple renewable energy capacity to 9,931.3 megawatts (MW) from the 2010 level.

Renewable sources of energy include geothermal, hydropower, biomass, solar, wind and ocean.

Under the plan, the biggest contributors to power generation are seen to be hydropower, geothermal and wind energy.

“I think we’re successfully in it now,” Ayson said, noting that the DOE has approved about 682 renewable energy contracts with a potential capacity of 13,600 MW, she said.

“It’s still potential capacity because they still have to do pre-development activities until they can start operations,” she added.

CEBU DECLARATION

Ayson, who is also Philippine Senior Official on Energy, said the energy ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are expected to sign a Cebu Declaration at the end of their meeting.

The document will, among others, push for resiliency of energy infrastructures in keeping with this year’s theme, “Toward an Energy-Resilient APEC Community.”

“When we say energy-resilient infrastructures, we mean that our energy infrastructures can withstand extreme natural and man-made disasters,” she said.

Resilient energy infrastructures should be able to recover from disasters quickly, she added. The  Philippines is vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, with an average of nine typhoons making landfall each year and around 10 others entering the country.

The Philippines is also calling on the 21 APEC economies to facilitate energy investments in the region and among the members.

“We want more investors so that we’ll have more power generation plants and that we’re able to cope with increasing demand for energy considering the fast economic growth that we’re experiencing,” Ayson said.

Another key element of the ministerial meeting is the need to put in place clean energy technologies to achieve a low-carbon scenario in the entire APEC community.

Other highlights are: energy-water nexus, identification of eco-tourism sites, harmonization of regional standards on energy products and services, inventory and mapping of energy resources, human resources development and gender fair approaches in energy.

The energy ministerial meeting will be held on Tuesday, after the Special Energy Working Group meeting today.

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TAGS: APEC, Cebu, Cebu Declaration, coal, energy, Philippines, renewables, resilient

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