Coal capacity pipeline halved after government ban

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PIXABAY

By Angelica Y. Yang and Jenina P. Ibanez, Reporters

THE COUNTRY’S pipeline of coal capacity fell by 43% to 8.73 gigawatts (GW), during a 10-month period through end-June after the Energy department halted greenfield coal projects a year ago, according to a local think tank.

“Coal capacity in the pipeline has nearly halved since last year,” Avril de Torres, who heads the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development’s Research, Policy and Law program, told an online forum on Wednesday.

The Department of Energy (DoE) in October last year stopped approving new coal-fired power plants as part of efforts to shift to a more flexible power supply mix.

Ms. De Torres said three coal projects with a total capacity of 864 megawatts (MW) had “suddenly” appeared in DoE’s coal pipeline.

These include Petron Corp.’s 44-MW refinery boiler in Bataan, San Ramon Power, Inc.’s 120-MW coal-fired power station in Zamboanga City and Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd.’s 700-MW power plant in Zambales, which the government allegedly failed to shelve even if they did not meet exemption criteria.

“We urge the DoE to take bold actions in support of their pronouncement against coal starting with issuing the official list of coal-fired power projects shelved by the coal moratorium,” she said.

Civic group Power for People Coalition (P4P) earlier said the DoE’s exemption criteria for so-called projects — those that have yet to get financial backing — were unclear.

“Mired in ambiguity, the moratorium still allows several coal projects to remain in the pipeline despite failing to meet full exemption requirements,” it said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

Projects not covered by the coal moratorium are “committed power projects, existing power plant complexes with firm expansion plans and land site provisions, and indicative power projects with substantial accomplishments,” according to DoE.

Coal facilities contributed 57% or 59.2 terawatt-hour to the country’s power generation output last year, according to the Philippine Energy Plan.

Meanwhile, the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development urged the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to stop funding support for fossil fuels after the multilateral bank vowed to align its work with the Paris Agreement.

The advocacy group said the AIIB should overhaul its energy policy and stop all support for fossil fuels.

“There is no room, no space and no time to build new fossil fuel projects,” group coordinator Lidy B. Nacpil said in a statement. “We urge AIIB to exclude in its energy sector strategy and in all of its policies any support for any project that is related to the production and distribution of fossil fuels.”

The AIIB on Tuesday said it was considering supporting more climate-resilient infrastructure in the Philippines after it announced a three-point approach to speed up climate financing.

AIIB President Jin Liqun said the bank would align its private and public financial flows with the goals of the Paris agreement — a legally binding international treaty on climate change — by July 1, 2023 as its climate finance approvals reach $50 billion by 2030.

The amount would be a fourfold increase in annual climate finance commitments since the AIIB started reporting the figure in 2019.

The AIIB said it would set up initiatives to drive investment and mobilize private capital to speed up low carbon growth. It would also include climate mitigation and adaptation measures in its infrastructure investments.

The Asian Peoples’ Movement said the lender should turn outstanding debt from fossil fuel-based projects into grants for renewable energy projects.

The AIIB announced its strategy before the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland next week.

Developed countries will discuss plans to improve climate financing after they failed to fulfill a pledge to roll out $100 billion to help developing nations tackle climate change each year by 2020.

As governments channel financing through multilateral development banks, funds should be steered away from high-carbon assets to meet Paris Agreement goals, according to the Climate Transparency Report 2021.

Ms. Nacpil said the AIIB should stop supporting carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies that capture carbon dioxide emissions from fossil power generation and industrial activities.

“These technologies are capital intensive, unreliable, unproven and dangerous,” she said. These reinforce “lack of ambition, complacency and further delays in decarbonization, consequently missing the goal of keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees.”

The AIIB did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

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