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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Aboitiz backs coal ‘phasedown’ approach

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Aboitiz Power Corp., one of the country’s largest generation companies, is supporting a “phasedown” instead of a “phaseout” approach for coal-fired power projects as part of the government’s energy transition program, an executive said over the weekend.

AboitizPower Thermal Business Group president and chief operating officer Celso Caballero III underscored the need for a pragmatic strategy that considers the context of developing nations like the Philippines.

“COP [Conference of the Parties] 27 calls for a curb on emissions by ‘phasing down’ coal and using low-emission fuels. This more pragmatic strategy from the original ‘phase out’ solution is increasingly cognizant of the needs of developing countries,” he said.

The COP 28, held in Dubai late last year, echoed the “phasedown” approach with an agreement that signals the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just, and equitable transition.

Caballero said Aboitiz Power advocates for an energy transition that takes into account the financial and industrial aspects of developing nations.

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“It should be a transition that prioritizes justice and equity, both on global scale and within individual countries,” he said.

Caballero said the transition should take into consideration the ability of developing countries to power and aid their socio-economic development.

“We wrestle to find the right balance in the energy trilemma – energy security, equity and sustainability,” he said, while stressing the need to always go back to this three-point scale in mapping the role of coal in the energy transition.

He said achieving a just and equitable energy transition is not only a moral imperative, but also vital for the success and sustainability of global decarbonization efforts.

“It’s essential to ensure that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a cleaner, more sustainable energy future that benefits both current and future generations,” Caballero said.

Aboitiz Power president and chief executive Emmanuel Rubio said that tapping all available sources of power, regardless if it is traditional or renewable, is necessary to ensure a continuous supply of electricity and minimize the impact of headwinds that are expected to challenge the Philippine energy sector this year.

These challenges include global supply chain uncertainties, the risk of unavailable and insufficient transmission infrastructure, the anticipated effects of El Niño weather phenomenon and electricity consumption projected to increase by 6.6 percent this year, which will require 600 to 700 megawatts (MW) of additional power.

Rubio said conventional energy sources is important in ensuring a consistent electricity supply in both the short and long term vis-a-vis supporting the growth ambitions of the country.

He said that thermal plants still have a crucial role in providing a reliable and stable source of electricity. He also said there should also be sufficient transmission networks to support the influx of new generation capacity, specifically variable renewable energy.

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