The Philippines definitely needs coal to power up the economy via the much needed baseload supply, an official of the Department of Energy said on Wednesday.
“2016 marks the 35th year of our country’s adoption and utilization of coal for purposes of power generation. If in 1981 its share in the mix was only 1 percent, it has now grown significantly to 45 percent by the close of 2015,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in a speech, read by Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary Gerphy Erguiza, during Coal Business and Policy Forum 2016 on Wednesday.
“And with new coal-fired power plants in the offing, the figure is expected to increase, or at the very least, remain so for a considerable period,” he added.
Cusi noted the times they are a-changing. Some 35 years after, concerns about the environment and climate change have triggered public clamor for clean and sustainable energy.
He called for the Philippines to make good on its pledge to be proactive in contributing to mitigate climate change.
However, the social and economic circumstances of the Philippines have also changed, the Energy official noted, saying the country is now facing high electricity rates and an unquenchable thirst for energy that far outweighs current capacity.
Cusi said the result is an “energy trilemma” in trying to find the balance among the competing demands for energy security, environmental sustainability, and economic competitiveness.
The Philippines needs 13, 604 megawatts (MW) in additional capacity to feed the power grid by 2030, according to Energy Department’s demand-supply outlook for 2016-2030.
The Luzon grid needs 7,320 MW, the Visayas grid 3,204 MW and the Mindanao grid 3,080 MW.
“One quarter says that “Clean Coal” is the wave of the future, the “game-changer” in the coal-fired power industry. However, another quarter argues the opposite: that it is not only a total misnomer, but is utterly impossible,” Cusi said.
What is clear is that coal is here to stay, he added.