Fuel mix policy to curb new coal plants

Under draft energy plan

by Myrna Velasco – February 8, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

The fuel mix policy being cast by the Department of Energy (DOE) will put a stop to the aggressive expansion of coal plants – given the fact that the country’s base load source of power will already be solved in the immediate term.

In a presentation to the media of the draft Philippine Energy Plan (PEP), DOE director Jesus Tamang has emphasized that “a fuel mix policy could prevent increasing share of coal in total power generation.”

The overall aim, he added, will be for the policy to also pare the inclusive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the power generation sector given the proliferation of new coal capacities in the coming years.

He admitted though that reversing the trend of coal-dominated electricity generation will take some time, thus, the government’s target would be to achieve balance until year 2050.

It is worth noting that many of the generation plants coming on-line between this year to 2019 and onwards are mostly from coal plants – dwarfing the capacity share of renewables and gas.

Between 2025 to 2050, however, it could be gleaned from the PEP being crunched by the department that the share of gas will accelerate.

Getting there though is still an ‘unclear picture’ despite the intensifying call on government to already firm up a policy that will eventually counteract the widely-tagged ‘dirty but cheap choice’ in the power mix.

The DOE is leaning on a propounded 30-30-30 rule, which infers 30-percent share for coal; 30-percent for gas; 30-percent for renewable energy sources; and 10-percent for other technologies.

At this point, energy officials cannot categorically state yet if the policy will tangibly call for a stop to coal plant investments at a certain period – as it is already anticipated that its share may already breach the targeted percentage.

In fact, coal’s share in the pie is seen rising massively that it may surpass 40-percent in the coming years. This then triggers worry to policymakers on the concomitant impact of “high carbon intensity” power mix not just on the environment and global climate change dilemmas but also on the health of the population.

The energy department noted that the details of the fuel mix policy shall be fleshed out in a proposed legislative measure that they will file in Congress with the new administration.