Philippines needs more coal-fired power says president

The Philippines’ president said this week that building more coal-fired power plants is necessary to meet the nation’s growing energy needs.

Speaking at an opening ceremony for the 300 MW Therma South coal-fired plant in Davao City on Mindanao island, President Benigno Aquino was quoted by newspaper MindaNews as saying that, while the nation aims to develop renewable power projects to fulfil its climate targets, additional baseload plants are also needed in order to ensure a steady energy supply during “rain or shine, with very minor fluctuations”.

Up to 33 per cent of the country’s energy mix now comes from renewable sources, Aquino noted, and over half of the power on Mindanao is supplied by hydroelectric plants. In his speech, Aquino reportedly lashed out against “harsh critics who would speak loudly against us during the dry period—when the hydropower production is low—and completely forget about the issue during the rainy season.”

“The Mindanao situation has made it obvious that we also need more baseload power,” he continued. “After all, while I am a believer in developing renewables, at this point we are still hounded by the questions: What if there’s no wind? What if the clouds are overcast and the solar efficiency is down? What if we do not have enough biomass? Unfortunately, right now, we cannot wean ourselves completely from relying on coal.”

The Therma South plant was developed by Aboitiz Power. Reassuring on climate issues at the plant’s opening, the firm’s CEO, Erramon Aboitiz, said the plant “uses the latest circulating fluidized bed combustion technology that minimizes emissions and ensures that the power plant meets Philippine Clean Air Act (RA 8749) standards.”

The plant also boasts the country’s first coal dome (pictured) for fuel storage. According to Black & Veatch, project and commissioning manager for Therma South, the dome is designed to minimize surface area on which dust can settle for the safe storage of the plant’s coal supply.

Aboitiz added that the plant “also uses an electrostatic precipitator, which electrically charges and removes more than 99 per cent of dust and other particles from the effluents.”

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