Toledo coal plant targets construction in 2025

ENERGY SECURITY. During the “Good Design. Good Business Summit” of the Cebu Business Months 2024,  Ronaldo Ramos, chief operating officer of the AboitizPower Thermal Business Group stresses the critical importance of energy security, especially to a fast growing economy of Cebu.
ENERGY SECURITY. During the “Good Design. Good Business Summit” of the Cebu Business Months 2024, Ronaldo Ramos, chief operating officer of the AboitizPower Thermal Business Group stresses the critical importance of energy security, especially to a fast growing economy of Cebu. Katlene O. Cacho-Laurejas

ABOITIZ Power (AP) plans to start construction of the third coal plant in Toledo City next year, with completion slated in 2028.

According to Ronaldo Ramos, chief operating officer of the AboitizPower Thermal Business Group, Therma Visayas Inc. (TVI) is securing bids from equipment suppliers and awaiting the environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and system impact study from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) before proceeding with the construction of the third coal plant.

“Hopefully, by the first quarter of 2025, we should be able to secure the permits for the third plant,” said Ramos in an interview during the “Good Design. Good Business Summit” of the Cebu Business Months (CBM) 2024 on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the SM Seaside City.

TVI is a joint venture between AP and Vivant Corp. It currently operates two coal-fired power plants with a capacity of 150 megawatts (MW) in Toledo.

“The site is already built and is provisioned for a third unit… We just have to put the steam turbine generator and the boiler,” said former AP president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Rubio in an online briefing on April 22.

TVI had already secured permits for the project even before the Department of Energy (DOE) declared a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in October 2020 during the Duterte administration. The moratorium remains in effect.

Energy security

During the CBM Summit, Ramos discussed the critical importance of energy security, especially to the fast-growing economy of Cebu.

Based on the DOE projections, energy demand for Cebu Province will reach around 1,400 MW by 2026 and will outpace supply by 2027 -– unless new baseload power plants are constructed.

Central Visayas is the fastest-growing among regional economies in the country with a growth rate of 7.3 percent in 2023, or an estimated P1.38 trillion, up from P1.29 trillion in 2022.

Cebu, according to NGCP, eats half of the power demand of Visayas. Cebu City, specifically, the Visayan Electric franchise, consumes half of the province’s demand.

“With the growth that we are expecting at around seven percent per year, we expect the demand to be around 100 to 120 megawatts of power on an annual basis,” he said.

Ramos said that the anticipated economic expansion of Cebu is at risk due to a precarious electricity supply, especially since no new baseload plant has been erected in the last six years.

The Visayas grid had experienced fluctuating power supply in the past month. The most recent was on May 29, when a yellow alert status was raised due to forced outages and derated capacities of some power plants.

“The Visayas grid experienced its highest peak of 2,525 MW last April. A lot of it was brought about by the additional consumption from El Niño. It represents a three percent increase from a previous high of 2,458 MW in 2023,” said Ramos.

“This is a clear indication that demand is growing… but there are not enough investments on the supply side,” he added.

Businesses in Cebu, according to Ramos, have reported an average of three to four power outages per week, each lasting between one to two hours.

Coal

Coal, according to the DOE, is a sought-after energy source worldwide. It has the largest reserve and is often the cheapest of the fuel options. The Philippines is largely a coal-consuming country with coal having the highest contribution to the power generation mix at 58 percent in 2021.

“Now that clean coal technologies are available, the demand for coal has remained steady despite the current stringent standard on environmental concerns,” the DOE said on its website.

According to TVI’s website, the Toledo-based power plant uses the Circulating Fluidized Bed and the Best Available Control Technology to minimize coal dust emissions that can harm the atmosphere. (KOC)

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