By Lenie Lectura - April 30, 2017
TOKYO—The power-generation arm of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) underscored the importance of an advocacy group that will zero in on sustainable coal utilization.
“It would be good to explore the potentials of having a formal initiative or, perhaps, a group that will work toward the achievement of attaining similar advocacy toward sustainable energy on coal development,” Meralco PowerGen Vice President for External Affairs Litz Santana said.
She was referring to Japan Coal Energy Center (JCOAL), a one-stop shop for energy and coal development and utilization under supervision by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
JCOAL’s mission is to advocate the world community for clean-coal technology (CCT) and its advantages. It investigates and suggests solutions to coal-related issues, and develops technologies to protect the environment and to enable the use of low-rank coal from the medium- and long-term perspective.
In a briefing here, JCOAL President Osamu Tsukamoto said it is a pressing task for the group to promote CCT development, such as high efficiency of coal-fired power plant and zero-emission technology.
“Coal is important,” said Tsukamoto, as he underscored that coal is the most available, affordable and accessible energy source both in terms of supply and economy.
He recognized the environmental concerns on the use of coal, but said there are ways to “harmonize it with environmental issues”.
The best way to harmonize the use of coal and its environmental impact is to focus on the development of Japanese CCT, high-efficiency, coal-biomass mixed firing and CCUS (carbon-dioxide capture, utilization and storage) in view of the imminent requirements of CO2 emissions reduction committed through the Paris Agreement.
In developing countries that have chosen coal as their major energy source, he said, “clean-coal utilization must be promoted in the manner most appropriate to each country’s situation to reduce CO2 emissions.”
In Japan Tsukamoto said there was little resistance from the community when coal-power plants were being built.
“Not so strong opposition,” Tsukamoto said. “Every day, Japanese power companies consult local people on the technology so local people would understand and be guided.”
During the briefing, he said Japan has 25 coal plants that run on Ultra-Super Critical (USC) technology, with a total rated capacity of 19,960 megawatts (MW).
It started the operation of the coal-fired USC plant in 1993. Now, more than half of Japan’s coal plants run on USC technology.
In the Philippines MGen plans to build a 2×600-MW USC coal-fired power plant in Atimonan town, Quezon province. The project, seen to be country’s first ultra-supercritical plant, will be undertaken by Atimonan One Energy.
“We continue to seek and look for best practices in the utilization of clean-coal technology. We wish to continue to understand the available technologies that will ensure the efficient and environmental sustainability of this power resource,” Santana said.
Preparation works for the Atimonan power project are targeted to start in mid-2017, with expected completion of Unit 1 in 2021.
Atimonan One is currently in the final stages of its selection and contract documentation process for an EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) contractor.
The Philippines is still dependent on coal as a source of power generation.
As of end-2016, the country’s dependable capacity stood at 14,996 MW, of which 14,996 MW is available capacity. Peak demand hit 13,272 MW last year.
Of the country’s dependable capacity last year, 36.5 percent was coal; natural gas, 17.2 percent; hydro, 16.7 percent; oil based, 14.8 percent; geothermal, 8.8 percent; solar, 3.1 percent; wind, 2 percent; and biomass, 0.8 percent.
Based on government data, the country needs 43,000 MW of additional power-generation capacity until 2040, with the bulk to be supplied in Luzon.
The required power-system capacity addition between 2016 and 2040 is 43,765 MW. Of this, Luzon would need 24,385 MW, the Visayas 9,180 MW and Mindanao 10,200 MW. On a per-technology basis, the country would need 25,265 MW of base-load power that can be sourced from coal, geothermal, natural gas, nuclear, biomass and hydro for the said period. The additional mid-merit power sources that usually come from natural gas, among others, should hit 14,500 MW for the 24-year period. Peaking sources of power—such as oil, wind and solar—should total 4,000 MW.