A  moratorium  on new coal plants

Published November 3, 2020, 4:11 PM

by Manila Bulletin

The Department of Energy (DOE)  last  Sunday  declared  a moratorium  on endorsements for coal power plants, following  its periodic assessment  of  the country’s energy requirements.

“I’m  optimistic  this would lead to more opportunities of renewable energy to figure prominently  in our country’s energy future,” Energy Secretary  Alfonso  Cusi   said.  The moratorium does not affect some projects  already  committed  or are now undergoing selection process.

The  DOE  decision   for  a  moratorium on new coal power plants is in line with the commitment our country made at the  Paris Climate Agreement of December,  2015,  when  195 nations  agreed  to take various steps  to  stop  or hold back the  rise in world temperature  caused  by  carbon emissions from the world’s industries.  Coal-fueled   factories  are  among   the major sources of these carbon emissions along  with  factories powered by oil and gas.

The Philippines  needs   power plants  for its national development,  with coal  now  having the highest  share of these projects at 3,991 megawatts, followed by natural  gas plants at 1,750 megawatts,  battery storage plants  at 989 megawatts,  and oil-based plants at 425 megawatts.

We  are beginning to develop  renewable energy projects.  Already approved at the  DOE  are 255 megawatts  from  wind-power  projects, 179 megawatts  from  biomass projects,  and 132 megawatts  from  wind projects.  We have two other potential sources of renewable energy – hydro and geothermal – but no new  projects  in  these two  areas.

China  and  the United States are today the world’s foremost producers of polluting carbon  emissions.  China  recently committed to stop its carbon emissions  by 2060. Japan  followed  soon after with the same pledge to achieve that goal by 2050. Unfortunately,  the US  withdrew from the  Paris  Agreement  in  2017 and  continues to be a major producer of polluting carbon pollution that is raising world temperatures.

The Philippines is but a minor contributor to this carbon pollution,  but  it is doing its part   with   programs  for developing renewable sources of energy.    Coal plants are still its major source  of power  for its factories  because they cost  the least,  but  we now have a policy  in place for less reliance on coal and  more  on  sun, wind, geothermal, and other  renewable  sources of  energy.

The Department  of Energy’s recent decision    for  a moratorium on new coal plants is in line with that new policy and we hope to continue in that direction in the coming  years.