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“Philippine power plan must be revised to dovetailwith UN goal of lower GHG emissions” – Alvarez

MANILA, Aug. 28 — The Philippine power development plan for 2009 to 2030 must be significantly revised in mid-stream to allow the submission of a credible “intended nationally determined contributions”(INDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Paris next December.

This was stressed by Climate Change Commissioner Heherson T. Alvarez who said that under the existing plan, there is no way that the Philippines will be able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to conform with the UN mandate since coal-fired power and diesel plants dominate the country’s energy sector.

“Unless we act forcefully, the trajectory of the Philippine plan will lead us to embrace the highest share of coal dependency in Asia by as much as 75 percent of our generation mix by 2030, doubling greenhouse gas emissions between 2014 and 2025” he pointed out.

Philippine coal-fired power capacity has been increased by 25 percent in the last three years, and some 25 new coal plants with a gross capacity of 12,200 megawatts are in the pipeline, Alvarez said.

At the same time Alvarez, a former senator and environment secretary, called for a drastic re-orientation of Philippine power policymakers to bring them into the mainstream of the global trend toward cleaner alternative energy sources.

Philippine energy policymakers must start a shift now to a low-carbon future by introducing the right policies and long-term framework, including an effective price on carbon and a re-definition of “least-cost generating system.”

Traditionally, Alvarez said, coal-fired plants have been seen as the least-cost generating system since policymakers failed to take into account its externalities — the social and economic costs of its environmental destruction, of the pollution that undermines public health, and the incalculable damages to agriculture and ecosystems.

When these externalities are factored in the price of carbon, coal would be far costlier than renewable energy sources, he said.

Citing a U.S. study, Alvarez said health costs from mortality and morbidity impacts due to coal emissions will rise to an estimated USD 18 billion by 2030.

“The INDC process – in which countries determine their contributions in the context of their national priorities, circumstances and capabilities – is key to the global framework that drives collective action toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future,” he stressed.

UN member nations have agreed to publicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement that will determine whether the UN can curb global warming by stopping global temperature rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Alvarez noted that by 2030, the country’s energy sale is projected to increase from 55,417 GWh in 2008 to 149,067 GWh by 2030. For the 2009-2030 period, around 17 GW of new capacities are needed to meet the demand and reserve requirements for electrical power. Of these, 1,338 MW will come from committed power projects.

To date, private sector initiated and committed power projects total some 1,338 MW which will be generated mostly by coal-fired plants in Luzon and the Visayas.

The good news lies in Mindanao, according to Alvarez. “Mindanao will be a brilliant exception since some 100.5 MW total committed projects are all renewables.” (PNA)

RMA/PR/RSM

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