Up to 2016, Mindanao leans on coal to solve power deficit

Department of Energy planning Chief Michael Sinocruz | Bukidnon News Photo by Daniel Mental

Department of Energy planning Chief Michael Sinocruz | Bukidnon News Photo by Daniel Mental

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Bukidnon News/23 March) About 85 percent or 500 of the total of 588 megawatts committed projects for power generation in Mindanao will be on coal energy, based on a report Friday by Department of Energy planning Chief Michael Sinocruz.

Sinocruz, who spoke during the Regional Media Workshop on Power Industry and Renewable Energy Development in Mindanao, cited that from 2013 to 2016, the DOE has marked eight committed or engaged projects in Mindanao.

Only two of the projects, with a total of 58 megawatts, are renewable energy projects namely the Mt. Apo 3 Geothermal project, 50 megawatts and the Cabulig Hydro project of the Mindanao Energy Systems Inc. in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental with eight megawatts.

Two of the projects are diesel power plants, with 15 megawatts each, namely the Mapalad Energy Generating Corporation’ project in Iligan City and the EEI Power Corporation’s peaking plant, in Tagum City.

The rest of the projects come from the Therma South Inc.’s Phase 1 coal project in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur with 150 megawatts due in 2013; the Therma South Phase 2 with 150 megawatts in 2015; Sarangani Energy Corporation’s coal project Phase 1 in Maasim, Saranggani with 100 megawatts in 2015; and the latter’s second phase with 100 megawatts in 2016.

Four more renewable projects, a total of 127 megawatts out of 527 megawatts in nine projects, were listed in “indicative projects” or those projects that signified intent but are still going through pre-development process.

Four others are wholly coal projects for a total of 400 megawatts. One of the projects, the 20 megawatt Circulating Fluidized Bed Biomass-Coal Fired Thermal Power Plant in Maco, Davao del Norte is a hybrid, bio-mass and coal project.

Romeo Montenegro, investment promotions and public affairs director of the Mindanao Development Authority, said in his presentation that Mindanao is in a “serious power deficit” requiring at least 500-megawatts of new capacity by 2016, another 500 megawatts in 2020, and 1,600 megawatts by 2030 based on a projection using 4.7 percent annual growth of power demand.

He added that the outlook for cheap hydro electric power from the Agus and Pulangi power complexes is “compromised by siltation of river systems and dams.”

“Share of fossil fuels in the energy mix is thus rising,” he said.

Montenegro said there is a need to fully tap “clean, renewable and indigenous power sources” to minimize foreign exchange and environmental costs.

He also added that there is a need to address electricity consumption growth and substantial system losses.

But Montenegro said the deficit can be addressed “immediately” with additional capacities by a quick rehabilitation or up-rating of the Agus and Pulangi power complexes. But he added that it could only augment about 50 to 100 megawatts.

Montenegro also cited that the government has considered tapping imbedded generators or enhance the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) to augment capacity by 200 megawatts. He also cited the pending reopening of the Iligan Diesel Power Plant, which is expected to raise power capacity by 100 megawatts

“So, that’s 300 to 400 megawatts of power to bail us out of trouble; but it ain’t easy fix,” he added.

Montenegro said the potential for renewable energy in Mindanao is huge but is “largely untapped”. He added that it requires bigger initial CAPEX (capital expenditure) and needs substantial investment to meet economic of scale and viability.

As of 2013, Mindanao’s energy mix is 52 percent hydro, 31 percent oil based, 10 percent coal-based, 5 percent geothermal, and 1 percent bio-mass.

By 2016, including the committed projects, hydro and oil-based will be cut to 40 percent and 25 percent respectively. But coal-based will shoot up to 28 percent.

By 2018, including committed and indicative projects, hydro and oil-based will be cut further to 25 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Coal will soar to 36 percent share in the mix.

About 80 journalists and public information officers of electric cooperatives in Northern Mindanao attended the workshop facilitated by MindaNews and organized by MinDA, the Department of Energy, and Cynergy, a project funded by the United States Aid for International Development. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)