DOE, DOF to harmonize PH pledge at COP26

Published November 30, 2021, 3:21 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Top leaders of the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Finance (DOF) vowed to work together to harmonize the country’s carbon emissions reduction commitment at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

In an interview with the media, National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) President Melvin A. Matibag indicated that “in the coming days, DOE and DOF will come out with statements that will be united and something that we will be pushing as a stand of the country.” Matibag said this in reference to the COP26 pledge of the Philippines in line with the Paris Agreement.

Matibag is closely working with Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi. As a company, TransCo will also help support the development of transmission facilities in off-grid areas that could then underpin the deployment of renewable energy (RE) technologies in these domains.

Relevant stakeholders in the energy sector, however, took note of the disparity in the pronouncements given by the DOF and DOE when it comes to strategies on how the country can pare down its carbon footprints.

The finance department is pushing for prospective gradual phaseout of coal plants through the propounded energy transition mechanism (ETM), which will then enable the scrapping of coal plants in the energy mix within 10 to 15-year timeframe.

But in the strategies fleshed out by the DOE, the coal phaseout game plan is conspicuously missing – and Cusi has also been very vocal that he is not advocating it even if the DOE has previously declared a moratorium on new coal plant developments.

The energy chief argued that any immediate plans to get rid of coal plants in the country’s power system could compromise energy security concerns. Also, if their capacities will be taken out without proper planning and without guaranteed replacements, this could result in unwanted blackouts that could then endanger the Philippine economy’s recovery.

Given the diverging stand of the two agencies when it comes to targets of ditching coal in the energy mix, Matibag noted that “the DOE and DOF have been having a lot of meetings and conferences regarding the matter, so that they can somehow have a united position in our commitment with COP26.”

The TransCo chief executive added “when Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez arrived from Glasgow from the summit, I know that there was a meeting between the two secretaries regarding their commitments.”

So far though, the two agencies are in sync when it comes to ramping up RE installations as well as in stimulating energy efficiency programs and ventures to achieve the country’s aspiration for a clean energy future.

The other CO2 reduction approaches set forth by the DOE under the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) are electrification of the transport sector, widening the base of investments and production of biofuels, and embrace of innovative technologies such as battery storage and hydrogen.