Gov’t set to require technology upgrade

By Myrna M. Velasco – February 1, 2017, 10:01 PM

from Manila Bulletin

To pare carbon emissions, President Rodrigo Duterte declared that the government will be requiring an upgrade in coal-fired plant technology deployments, primarily for ongoing greenfield power projects and even for those that are still on blueprint.

He said the country will continue to embrace coal technology as an energy option to underpin the aspired economic growth of this administration, but it must be done with what he calls a “happy balance” achieved through utilization of clean coal technologies (CCT or clean tech) in power generating facilities.

“We’ll have no other alternative except to upgrade the technology to its fullest,” the President said, while emphasizing that coal will stay, “for as long as it is the most viable fuel” that could give cheaper rates to the Filipino consumers.

Duterte added “we are now trying to figure out how to balance it. We would like to have a clean planet but that would be nigh impossible really to insist because civilization needs to have light. So you strike a happy balance.”

He further stressed “at this time, whoever is the President of the Philippines would always contend with coal,” adding that such resource is still of massive scale and could still fuel the country and the world for decades and even centuries.

The Chief Executive averred that while there are lots of flashiness about going “green” on energy options, for an economically emerging country like the Philippines, it cannot just really thrive as an alternative.

“There have been a lot of inventions about solar and everything. But other people and especially the pretentious experts, they do not have a good alternative, I mean cheap, affordable fuel for the power plants,” Duterte noted.

On reference, global think-tank International Energy Agency (IEA) in its latest report has noted that many power markets, mainly in Asia, would still be “highly dependent on coal” in meeting their energy needs.

The IEA emphasized that geographical shift in increased coal consumption is definitely coming to Asia; and that “this shift will accelerate in the next years.”

It explained that coal would still be the preferred fuel for emerging economies “because it is relatively affordable and widely available.” It is a primary fuel for electricity generation, steel production and cement manufacturing, among others.

According to Keisuke Sadamori, IEA director for energy markets and security, “coal demand is moving to Asia, where emerging economies with growing populations are seeking affordable and secure energy sources to power their economies.”

Yet given the environmental issues thrown against coal, it is a fuel seen to be continually attacked – with it accounted to be responsible for 45 percent of all energy-related carbon emissions and is a significant contributor to other types of pollution.

Sadamori explained “because of the implications for air quality and carbon emissions, coal has come under fire in recent years, but it is too early to say that this is the end for coal.”

He stressed “this is the contradiction of coal – while it can provide essential new power generation, it can also lock-in large amounts of carbon emissions for decades to come.”

The IEA emphasized though that coal demand growth trajectory will largely depend on China which accounts for 50 percent of global demand and almost half of the world’s coal production.