Post pandemic energy planning
Post Covid-19 pandemic and beyond the stretch of the Duterte administration, the power development planning of the Department of Energy (DOE) had cast an average 7.5-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth as base scenario in the country’s energy needs for the next two decades, including the provision for power reserves.
“Based on the National Economic Development Authority’s (NEDA) projected GDP growth target of 7.5-percent, the strategies indicated in the PEP (Philippine Energy Plan) seeks to ensure the availability of sufficient reserves at 25-percent over the next 20 years,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said.
He said the modified energy plan shall guide the industry stakeholders on the investment pathway and on the situation of the sector through year 2040.
Cusi touted massive scale installations of renewable energy (RE) in the revised PEP that was also recently submitted to Congress; while reducing developments in the fossil fuels genre, primarily on coal facilities.
“A total of 44,761 megawatts of additional RE capacity are needed to achieve the levels set in the clean energy scenario,” Cusi said, in reference to the energy planning paradigm that this administration will be leaving to its successor.
Beyond RE developments, the DOE is also aggressively pushing for the concretization of various liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facilities that had already secured the government’s go-signal.
“One of the exciting possibilities for us in the energy family and prospective investors include our goal to make the Philippines a regional LNG hub in Southeast Asia,” Cusi stressed.
Less clear, however, is how the Philippines can attain that given that it does not even have a single LNG import facility at this time; and the investors are just currently advancing floating storage regasification units (FSRUs) since the targeted onshore import terminals have yet take off from blueprints.
Another ‘energy security anchor’ of the DOE plan will be nuclear power development and for this technology to be integrated in the country’s future energy mix.
“I strongly believe it is high time for the Philippines to be open to nuclear power, which is a reliable alternative to attain energy sufficiency, sustainability and meet future power demand,” Cusi pointed out.
He noted that a government-consigned survey of the Social Weather Stations had revealed greater openness of the Filipino public to nuclear as an option in the energy mix, including the planned repowering of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) which the energy chief claimed to have been constantly demonized through the years.
“After all, those arguments that have been said against nuclear power plant had been answered by time. In hindsight, the Philippine economy would have been different had we tapped nuclear power in the 1970s,” Cusi opined.
For the targeted initial rollout of nuclear power facilities in the Philippines, the energy department is placing its bet on small modular reactors (SMRs) that it targets for deployment by year 2027.
But Cusi qualified these propounded nuclear facility builds “would depend on the passage of necessary legislative policies on nuclear power, which are among the bills that have been certified as urgent, and must be passed by the present Congress.” (MMV)