Manila, 7 March 2013—Coal plants will bring Mindanao more harm than good, Greenpeace said today as they urged President Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino III to usher in clean, green renewable energy and reject harmful coal plants.
The call came amid reports of a ‘looming power crisis in Mindanao,’ confirmed by a study released last week by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. Current Department of Energy plans for Mindanao are designed to promote the uptake of coal power, and several coal-fired plants are set to be operational by 2015. Greenpeace contends that coal and its negative side effects will worsen Mindanao’s power woes in the long run, as opposed to renewable energy which is good for the environment and business.
“Coal is the worst answer to the Mindanao power situation,” said Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Program Manager for the Philippines. “It’s a short-term, short-sighted solution. It will compromise the island’s agricultural productivity, cause health problems for nearby communities, and will also lead to water shortages in the future.”
Mindanao, which relies on hydro-electric power, faces energy shortages during the dry season due to lower water levels in its lakes and rivers. However, coal-fired power plants are huge water guzzlers. The 300 megawatt plant being built by Aboitiz Power in Davao City is located on top of an aquifer in Binugao, Toril, and is projected to use around 1,500 cubic meters of freshwater daily for cooling, inducing saltwater intrusion into Davao’s water source, and compounding water shortage.
Greenpeace argues that the country’s renewable energy sources can provide more than enough energy to power industries throughout the country. Solar energy potential alone in Mindanao is calculated at 4.5-5.5 kWh/m2/day. Wind potential is also high along the coastal areas of the island. Renewable energy is a clean alternative to dirty and climate change-causing energy sources such as coal and other fossil fuels.
“Investing in coal and diesel plants today will lock out massive renewable energy investments in Mindanao,” said Baconguis. “Compared to coal and diesel, renewable energy facilities can be deployed faster and also provides jobs that do not sacrifice the environment and the workers’ health. It therefore makes more business sense.”
Early this year, Greenpeace released the report, Green is gold: How renewable energy can save us money and generate jobs. The report proves that job generation without the environmental and health impacts attendant to coal and other fossil fuel sources is possible. By speeding up the processes and increasing the targets for investments in renewable energy, the Aquino administration can spark the much needed energy revolution in the country. This is not only good for the environment and for public health; it is economically sound as well, explained Baconguis.
“The President must remain true to his campaign commitment to phase out coal and promote renewable energy,” Baconguis said. “Championing renewable energy and rejecting coal and other fossil-fuel powered facilities is a legacy his administration can leave to the environment,” she concluded.