THE SENATE is seeking assurances that the government’s moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, a measure intended to allow renewable power to develop, does not raise costs or disrupt supply.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs the chamber’s energy committee, said in a statement calling for hearings on the coal ban that the transition needs to be part of a workable strategy in shifting to clean energy, in order for the Philippines to meet its commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Until when will the coal moratorium be? How can other technologies fill in the gap left by coal and how do we ensure that power cost will not increase while ensuring continuous supply?” Mr. Gatchalian said.

He said that it is “uncertain” whether the moratorium issued by the Energy department “is in the context of a larger energy transition plan and what the higher targets are for Renewable Energy (RE) and alternative fuels within a specific timeframe.”

“Investing in renewable energy is the win-win solution for sustained economic growth. We can have cleaner air at a much cheaper price and RE investments can bring in lots of job opportunities especially since many of our (countrymen) lost their jobs during this pandemic,” he added.

The Department of Energy (DoE) in October declared a moratorium on new coal power plant projects to effect a shift to a “more flexible” power supply mix while building a more “sustainable power system.”

Mr. Gatchalian cited a study by Fitch Solutions which projected that coal-fired power generation will account for 59% of the energy mix by 2029.

If the projection is borne out, it would represent an increased share from 54.59% in 2019 and more than double the share in 2009, which was 26.6%, he said. Renewable energy’s share in the power generation mix fell to 20.79% in 2019 from 32.6% in 2009.

“There’s a need to look into the country’s energy transition plan, or lack thereof, in aid of legislation, with the end view of developing and ensuring an equitable, secure and sustainable energy transition,” he said.

Mr. Gatchalian said Philippine greenhouse gas emissions rose 5.4% in 2019 to 130 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas