AN ENERGY think tank said it is seeking support from Congress to help contain the growth of coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia, which it said make up the bulk of upcoming power projects.

In a statement Wednesday, the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) said legislators should take part in the global effort to reduce coal consumption, citing its harmful effects on the environment.

“The vast majority of power projects in the pipeline are coal-fired, (which means) that (as) the rest of the world begins to become more conscious of the environment and the costs of fossil fuels, the Philippines is going in the other direction,” CEED Executive Director Gerry Arances was quoted as saying in the statement.

The group said dependence on coal as an energy source translates into harm not only to the environment, but also to consumers, as it results in a higher cost of electricity and negatively affects the health of communities in areas where coal-fired plants are located.

It said as of 2017, more than one third or 35.4% of the installed capacity of power plants in the Philippines remains coal-fired, while 18.3% are powered by fossil fuels.

Citing data from the World Energy Investment 2019 report of the International Energy Agency (IEA), CEED said the construction of coal-fired power plants has slowed worldwide, but the trend has not taken hold in developing countries in Asia.

In a statement accompanying the IEA report, it said the continued growth of coal plants in developing countries is commonly driven by the need to plug a “growing gap between soaring demand for power and a levelling off of expected generation from low-carbon investments (renewables and nuclear).”

“Without carbon capture technology or incentives for earlier retirements, coal power and the high CO2 emissions it produces would remain part of the global energy system for many years to come. At the same time, to meet sustainability goals, investment in energy efficiency would need to accelerate while spending on renewable power doubles by 2030,” IEA said.

Mr. Arances of CEED said, “The people who say (coal is cheap) only count the profits they make, not the costs to our foreign exchange reserves, the healthcare system as communities suffer from air pollution, and the high cost of electricity to end-consumers.” — Denise A. Valdez