By: Daxim L. Lucas - 12:24 AM December 15, 2016
Energy Development Corp. (EDC) has urged the Duterte administration to support more geothermal projects and veer away from coal-fuel power plants, arguing that geothermal was a clean, renewable energy source whose supply was also affordable and stable.
In a statement, EDC president and COO Richard Tantoco said the country could not depend on coal plants for stable prices because, contrary to perception, coal was no longer a cheap power plant fuel.
“Indonesian coal [cost] $44 a metric ton in February and just a couple of weeks ago it reached $110 [per metric ton],” he said. “So, what does that mean for the Filipino consumers going out to the future?”
Tantoco explained that there was a risk associated with relying heavily on a single fuel source because if that fuel source encounters supply shortages or sharp price increases, consumers would suffer higher electricity rates.
“Even if it [coal] stabilizes into 80 [dollars per metric ton] it doesn’t mean ‘cheap’ energy is there to stay,” he added. “That’s why we’re pushing very hard for geothermal to happen; because if you make it happen, it provides stable base load and clean energy.”
Tantoco said that EDC’s focus on developing geothermal and other renewable energy sources reflected the company’s recognition of the need to lessen the buildup in the atmosphere of more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that have been blamed for global warming and climate change.
Use of geothermal power, which is an indigenous energy source, also helped the government save on foreign exchange that otherwise would pay for imported fuel sources like coal, he pointed out.
Studies have tagged the power-generation industry, especially carbon-intensive coal-fired power plants, as one of the main reasons behind adverse weather patterns associated with climate change, including floods, droughts as well as more destructive and more frequent typhoons similar in magnitude to Supertyphoon Yolanda, said the company that is controlled by the Lopez family.
In explaining support for coal, government officials earlier explained that the country contributed a minimal amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
But Tantoco pointed out that, for a country that is most vulnerable to climate change-related disasters, that small amount has huge impact on Filipinos, especially indigent ones.
The EDC official cited a 10-year study conducted by a European group showing the Philippines suffered 320 weather loss-related events over a 10 year period.
“The Philippines is the single, most vulnerable nation on earth; it recorded 320 events in 10 years compared to just 220 for Bangladesh and Thailand. So we are the most vulnerable,” Tantoco noted.