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.