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Coal, diesel now dominant source of power in Mindanao

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By Antonio L. Colina IV

 Davao City – More than half of Mindanao’s power now comes from non-renewable sources like coal and diesel, a complete reversal last year when the island depended on hydro-power for half of its energy mix, a report from the Department of Energy (DOE) showed.

Romeo Montenegro, Director for Investment Promotion, International Relations and Public Affairs of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said the reversal was observed between late 2015 and early 2016 with the commercial operations of the coal-fired power plants with a combined installed capacity of 700 megawatts (mw).

He was referring to AboitizPower Corp.’s 300-mw Therma South Inc. in Brgy. Binugao, Toril, 300-mw coal-plant of the San Miguel Power Corporation in Malita, Davao Occidental, and first 100-mw unit of the Alcantaga-led Sarangani Energy Corporation.

Of Mindanao’s total installed capacity of 3,162 mw, the contribution of the non-renewable energy was 1,898 mw (1,070 mw coal and 828 mw diesel), which accounts for 60 percent of the energy mix, while renewable energy accounted for only about 40 percent with a contribution of 1,264 mw (108 mw geo-thermal, 1,061 mw hydro, 36 mw biomass, and 59 mw solar).

Majority of the hydro power source came from the state-run Agus-Pulangui Hydro Power Complexes with an installed capacity of 982.1-mw and composed of seven plants – Agus 1, Agus 2, Agus 4, Agus 5, Agus 6, Agus 7, and Pulangui 4.

But Montenegro said hydro-energy provided an unstable source of power as it depended on the amount of rainfall to generate power, which made it less reliable for baseload.

As of February 26, Mindanao has had power surplus of 436 mw, according to the National Grid Power Corporation (NGCP).

Environmental group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) executive director Chinkie Pelino-Golle said this was a “backward development given the fact that we used to have higher percentage of renewable energy sources.”

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