The plan of Department of Energy (DOE) to legislate the proposed balanced energy mix in power supply will not work, according to the chairman of the House Energy Committee.
“It won’t work. The market should dictate. It is not for us to legislate, because it is difficult to get out of it once it’s legislated, because for that we need to amend the law. I don’t think we will have that flexibility to move from one technology to another when we have that,” Representative Reynaldo V. Umali, chairman of house committee of energy told reporters in a chance interview after the 3rd Power and Electricity World Philippines.
Under the DOE’s current fuel mix policy, the country should source 30 percent of its energy requirements from coal, 30 percent from renewable energy, and another 30 percent from natural gas. The remaining 10 percent will come from oil-based power plants.
“We have to determine what is the baseload, and then when we determine that we peg appropriate technology and given the price and affordability concerns. After that it should be all clean energy,” he said.
Umali even favored the moratorium for coal, “ In fact we need to scale down our coal commitments because it is the right thing to do.
“Those already constructed we cannot do anything about them, but limiting coal for new construction. For as long the baseload can already be covered by existing coal, we should limit it to that,” he said.
In the absence of legislation, Umali said the energy mix could be done by regulation of DOE, “It’s all political will and should be backed up by empirical basis.”
Compared with ASEAN and APEC neighbors, the Philippines has the highest renewable energy share in its energy mix at 39.9 percent as of 2015, according to DOE and British Petroleum Review. Close in second place is New Zealand at 37.4 percent. Among the larger and more developed countries, China has 9.9 percent, U.S 5.4 percent, Australia 5.9 percent, Russia 5.8 percent, and Canada at 27.2 percent.
“We must harness our potentials. Yes, the Philippines is very rich in renewable energy sources and there is a lot more to be harnessed or explored, so I urge both the government and the private sector, notably power industry players and investors, to invest more in renewable energy,” Umali said.
But still the Philippines relies on coal despite the country’s commitment to use greener sources of fuel. Notwithstanding our government’s commitment in COP 21 to reduce our consumption of coal, the DOE’s portfolio of approved coal-fired power plants will bring our energy mix to about 70 percent coal versus all others, according to solon.
“However, much as we need more power to support our growing economy, there is a need to ensure that we have the right energy mix to support the economic activities, especially in the light of recent disasters brought about by extreme weather conditions largely caused by global warming,” Umali said.
“It is imperative that we consider alternative sources of power and the quality of fuels to be used in generating capacities to meet the growing demands of the economy. Mindful of the need to keep electricity prices affordable, there is need to review government policies and/or decisions made on the use of cheaper but dirty fuels like coal. There is also a need to determine the true cost of coal power, to take into account its costs on our environment and on the people’s health,” he added.
Umali also explained that renewables are not perfect, “It is not enough to just rely on one renewable source only lest we risk outages or shortages. Solar power, for example, can only be generated if there is adequate sunlight. Wind energy depends heavily on the quality and strength of wind passing through the turbines. The power output of wind turbines can vary greatly. One day the turbines can generate huge amounts of power, tomorrow it may not if the wind is weak. These sources can vary widely depending on factors that are beyond our control,” he said.
“But we need other sources of fuel that can provide us constant power but they need not be dirty. We can always tap cleaner sources like geothermal, natural gas, biomass, and hydro to supply us with clean power. Let us march towards that bright and clean future that renewables and clean sources of energy offer us,” he added.