PH cannot get rid of coal in the energy mix – Cusi

Published December 4, 2020, 1:29 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

To ensure that even people who are slow to understand and unwilling to listen will clearly hear it, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi twice stipulated that the Philippines “cannot really get rid of coal” even on its future energy mix onward to 2040.

In an updated Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) presented by Cusi during the virtual Energy Investment Forum convened by the Department of Energy (DOE), he had shown that under a “clean energy scenario” for the country, coal installations would still reach 9,550 megawatts in the next two decades.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi (Source:
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi (Source:

Nevertheless, it is apparent within the 20-year planning period that greenfield developments will be dominated by renewable energy (RE) with targeted 44,761MW capacity; while gas plant builds will hover at 17,876MW.

For RE projects, the chunk will be coming from solar for 23,586MW; followed by hydro with 9,882MW; wind for 8,412MW; geothermal to have capacity addition of 1,597MW; biomass for 1,285MW; and the other technologies could yield 1,200MW.

On a per technology basis, the share of coal in the Philippine energy mix would still be massive at 34.7-percent through year 2040; natural gas will have 20.1-percent share; while RE on aggregate will have the bulk at 42.9-percent – with solar cornering the heftiest fraction with 24.3-percent in the pie; followed by hydro with 10.6-percent; then wind with 5.3-percent share; and geothermal with 2.0-percent share. Oil-based capacity will be marginal with 2.2-percent share.

By the end of 2040, the energy department calculates fossil fuels to have a share of 57.1-percent vis-à-vis RE’s 42.9-percent. That is in contrast to the current 70.8-percent of fossil fuels this year, versus RE’s considerably negligible stake of 29.2-percent.

Last month, Cusi declared moratorium on new coal plant developments, but he was never really persuaded by intense lobby groups to totally stop this paradigm of power project development  — and it’s turning up as a realization for the energy department that it cannot really ditch coal even in the country’s energy future.

In Cusi’s view, oil and coal will continue to have their place in the energy mix of the Philippines, albeit, this will be coming at reduced pace in the years to come.

“Under the clean energy or low carbon scenario, there will be a slower growth of total primary energy supply, as a result of our energy efficiency and conservation measures,” Cusi said, adding that “coal and oil shares will also continue to decrease due to the use of alternative fuels for transport.”

For the targeted RE installations, the energy chief indicated that the main driver for capital flow will be the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) because that will provide a market for generated capacity from these technologies – as mandated in the supply procurement of the distribution utilities.

“The clean energy scenario is the future that we would like to have,” the energy chief stressed, and he explained that it is a scenario “that builds on existing policies that incorporates the committed and indicative power projects,” primarily anchoring it on the National Renewable Energy Plan.

The clean energy pathway cast by the DOE, he added, “envisions to install emerging and more efficient technologies than those already identified, implement energy efficiency and conservation measures to decrease demand by at least five percent.”