Share of coal to energy mix increasing

By Jed Macapagal, Malaya

Note: This article was originally published last October 16, 2017 in Malaya.

The country’s total installed on-grid capacity grew 8.8 percent as of first half of the year to 21,621 megawatts (MW) against 2016’s 19,861 MW, data from the Department of Energy showed.

Coal still dominates the power mix providing 7,569 MW, up 16.7 percent from last year’s 6,484 MW. Its overall share likewise went up to 35 percent from 33 percent.

The three biggest coal plants that are currently running are the 1,294 MW Sual in Pangasinan of TeaM Sual Corp.; the 764 MW Pagbilao in Quezon of TeaM Pagbilao Corp. and the 651.6 MW Mariveles Coal in Bataan of GN Power Mariveles Coal Plant Ltd. Co.

Installed capacity from hydroelectric power plants followed coal-sourced capacity with 3,637 MW, a 0.8 percent increase from the previous year’s 3,609 MW. Its overall share went down to 16.8 percent from 18 percent.

The largest hydro plants that are in operation are the 739.2 MW Kalayaan pumped storage power plant in Laguna of CBK Power Co.; the 435 MW San Roque in Pangasinan of Strategic Power Devt. Corp. and the 360 MW Magat in Isabela of SN Aboitiz Power Inc.

Closely trailing hydro are oil-based power plants with a total of 3,584 MW, a 1.4 percent decline compared to last year’s 3,634 MW. Overall share likewise dropped to 16.6 percent from 18 percent.

Among oil-based plants with most installed capacity are the 650 MW Malaya thermal power plant in Rizal province operated by STX Marine Inc.; the 620 MW Limay combined cycle gas turbine in Bataan of Panasia Energy Holding Inc. and the 242 MW TMO diesel fired plant in Navotas of Therma Marine Inc.

Contribution of natural gas power plants stood at 3,431 MW , up 19.5 percent from the previous 2,872 MW. Its overall share also went up to 15.9 percent from last year’s half at 14 percent.

Geothermal power plants recorded a slight decline in contribution to 1,906 MW from 1,917 MW or a share of 8.8 percent from the previous 10 percent.

Solar power plants recorded the best improvement in contribution with 23.2 percent growth. It now has a total of 843 MW grid installed capacity compared to the previous year’s 684 MW and an overall share of 3.9 percent from 3 percent.

Total installed capacity of wind power plants remained at 427 MW, its share also stagnant at 2 percent. Capacity contribution of biomass power plants declined to 224 MW, down by 3.9 percent against the previous 233 MW but its share to the power mix remained at 1 percent.

With coal’s continued dominance of the Philippine power mix, stakeholders warned the country’s financial sector is exposed to the “imminent” stranding of power plants using said technology amounting to over 10,000 MW or $21 billion.

“The Philippines is heavily but needlessly over-dependent on coal, which is a losing gamble. The entire nation could be locked into two decades of paying for coal power it may not end up using,” said Sara Jane Ahmed, energy finance analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
Ahmed said retail competition, natural gas, and the cost deflation of renewable energy and its interaction with natural gas and retail competition are key factors disrupting the dominance of coal.

IEEFA also said investments in renewable energy and liquefied natural gas are more cost-effective and less risky for investors and consumers compared to coal power projects.

“Coal prices soared last year by 60 percent globally while solar prices fell over 40 percent over the last six months in the country. It is ironic that we import 75 percent of our coal supply even though the Philippines is a global leader in geothermal energy and holds a vast potential for other sources of renewables, including wind and hydro,” Ahmed added.