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PH can’t do away yet with coal for baseload

12:34 AM July 16, 2016

I fully support the stand of the Duterte administration that a mixed-energy use policy—combining baseload plants powered by coal and natural gas along with renewables, such as solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, among other sources—is the most practical for the country at this stage of our economic development.

New Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is right: “Coal is the more dependable, the more reliable source for baseload. We cannot afford to rely solely on renewables.”

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Industry studies indicate that we need an additional 10,000 MW to 12,000 MW between now and 2030 to sustain our economic growth. Given this, we cannot abruptly drop plans to build and operate coal-fired power plants.

Coal power is readily available here and remains the most affordable option for developing economies like the Philippines. This energy source is highly efficient and cost-effective.

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Overzealous environmentalists insist that the Duterte administration should remove coal from its energy reform agenda and fully rely instead on renewables or clean energy. However, renewables are very expensive to develop and maintain.

A comparison of Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) rates for coal and renewable energy sources shows that coal is the cheaper option. The FIT rate for coal runs to only P4.2079 per kWh, while the rate for wind power is almost double at P7.40 per kWh. The FIT rate for solar power is even more expensive at P8.69 per kWh. What this means is that consumers will actually pay more for renewable sources of energy at this time.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has said she does not want coal-powered plants and would prefer the establishment of more power plants fired by renewables. That could be a prescription for a coming “Dark Age” in this country, which will certainly engulf us if coal-fired power plants are all shut down.

But is that the environmentalist Lopez speaking, or is it because her family’s business interests include the Energy Development Corp., which operates several geothermal, wind and solar power facilities, and First Gen Corp. which owns natural gas plants? Just asking.

—EUNICE GABRIELLE DATOY, [email protected]

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TAGS: baseload plants, Biomass, coal, Gina Lopez, hydropower, mixed energy, natural gas, renewable energy source, solar, wind
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