Govt urged to lower reliance on coal energy

By Alena Mae S. Flores – July 24, 2019 at 07:35 pm

Energy and environmental think tank Center for Energy, Ecology and Development on Wednesday asked President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration to come up with an executive order on how to “fast-track” the development of renewable energy sources while “reducing” dependence on coal.

Duterte cited during his State of the Nation Address the need to reduce coal dependence.

“We welcome the positive remarks uttered by the president during his SONA, responding to the clamor of the public against dirty, deadly and costly energy from coal and fossil fuels,” said CEED executive director Gerry Arances.

“His statements are significant given that existing energy and power policies largely favor coal,” Arances said.

Coal currently accounts for 39.4 percent of the country’s dependable capacity mix, followed by renewable energy at 31 percent, natural gas at 15.5 percent and oil-based at 14.1 percent.

CEED said coal’s share in the mix would continue to grow given the 30 coal-fired power plants still in the pipeline.

The Department of Energy also predicted that coal would only increase for at least two decades more, according to the Philippine Energy Plan.

“We urge the president to formalize in an executive order the marching orders he gave during his speech to provide clear policy directions to the DoE and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” said Arances.

“We also encourage Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to outline what it means for its standing policies on permitting processes concerning energy projects and coal-fired power plants in the pipeline. We do not want the offices mainly mandated to pursue this transition to be the ones contradicting the president’s commitment to the people,” he said.

Records from the DoE showed that power generation is the biggest consumer of coal last year capturing 84.6 percent of total consumption equivalent to 26.1 million metric tons.

“We recognize the urgent need to ensure the sustainability and availability of resources and the development of alternative ones. In this regard, I trust that Secretary Cusi shall fast-track also the development of renewable energy sources, and reduce dependence on the traditional energy sources such as coal,” Duterte said during his SONA.