Coal energy - costing the Philippines now and in the future

ข่าวประชาสัมพันธ์ - กรกฎาคม 25, 2545
Thursday July 25, 2002, Manila: Continued reliance on coal energy for electricity would mean double punishment for the Philippines, as the nation would have to pay for both importing the greenhouse polluting fuel, and living with the onsequences of the climate change it risks, Greenpeace said today.

Launching its report "Burning Our Future - the true costs of building coal-fired power plants and the case for renewable energy alternatives", Greenpeace today called on the Philippines Government to increase its renewable energy target by 10% by 2011 and reduce the volume of coal-fired power nationally. Greenpeace also demanded support for renewable energy, like solar, wind power and modern biomass, including preferential tax breaks and regulations to reflect the true cost of fossil-fuel electricity.

"Coal is expensive, it's imported and it releases greenhouse pollution that damages the climate. In comparison, the sun and the wind are free, they are found just about everywhere in the Philippines and they don't pollute our atmosphere," said Greenpeace South East Asia climate campaigner, Red Constantino.

"We need energy here in the Philippines. We are a growing country with a growing demand for power, but it doesn't make sense to build new coal-fired power stations when we could be building new, clean power stations based on solar, wind or modern biomass."

The potential power of wind in the Philippines is estimated to be 70,000-MW, which represents seven times the country's present total energy demand. Using modern high efficiency systems, the total energy potential that can be derived from biomass resources such as rice hulls, coconut husks and sugar cane bagasse can potentially provide over 10,000-MW, as increasing population and food consumption per capita require higher agricultural crop production.

"Burning Our Future" examines the impacts of climate change on the Philippines, and the money behind the Philippine Government's plans to build even more coal-fired power stations. The report also contains testimonies from people living in the shadow of these dirty power stations - many of them without power supply to their homes.

"Overseas interests are complicit in damaging the Philippine's future, by both funding the development of coal-fired power stations, and exporting the coal to fuel them," said Constantino. "Some 99% of the funding for new energy development from overseas and private sector lending. Less than 1% is for solar, wind or modern biomass."

The USA and Australia - two of the countries doing their utmost to derail international action on climate change, are encouraging the Philippines' fossil fuel dependence. US corporation Mirant owns and operates some of the biggest coal fired power stations in the Philippines, such as Sual and Pagbilao coal fired power stations. Australia provides most of the Philippines imported coal. The UK French corporation, Alstom, has provided technology for several of the existing coal fired power plants, and is planning more.

Based on the Philippine Energy Plan, the share of new and renewable energy development is slated to decrease drastically from 30.03 percent today to 21.69% by 2011.

"We already know the tremendous economic and environmental benefits that can be derived from using sustainable energy technologies," said Constantino. "It is time for the Philippines to embrace the solutions to its current energy, environmental and economic predicament. It is time to choose positive energy now."

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is visiting the Philippines and Thailand on the Choose Positive Energy Tour of Southeast Asia, where communities are rejecting the dirty energy technology of coal-fired power stations, and demanding clean renewable energy to fill the growing demand. The Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, is presently campaigning in the North Sea against nuclear and fossil fuel energy on the northern leg of the Choose Positive Energy Tour.

The Choose Positive Energy Tour is part of Greenpeace's countdown to the Earth Summit held in Johannesburg next month. Greenpeace is campaigning for governments to make a commitment at the Johannesburg Earth Summit, to provide

clean and affordable renewable energy to the two billion people around the world who currently live without electricity, and for OECD governments to move 20% of their energy investments to renewables. During the coming weeks the Choose Positive

Energy Tour will illustrate that renewable energy is ready and able to replace dirty coal, oil, gas and nuclear power - not only in the future but today.