Power sector in 2030
Renewable energy can play a large part in reducing emissions in the power sector. Renewables reach up to 85% of the power mix by 2030, and around 100% by 2040, following 1.5°C compatible pathways. Focusing on renewable energy in the power sector would reduce the need to rely on CDR technologies that are unproven at scale or more costly. The carbon intensity of the power sector reduces from around 670 gCO₂/kWh in 2017 to as low as 100 gCO₂/kWh in 2030 and reaches zero by around 2039.
If the coal moratorium leads to cancelling all future coal plans, the transition to renewables could be accelerated as investors shift investments to clean energy options. Restructuring the power sector with renewables could bring about a secure, low-emissions, flexible energy system. In recent years, coal-fired generation has not coped with peak demand, nor the low demand during the pandemic, causing power outages., Renewable energy offers benefits such as flexibility, resilience, and electricity access for remote communities.
A potential for high penetration of renewables indicates that nuclear energy need not play a role in decarbonisation. The Philippines’ current nuclear energy programme roadmap places huge unnecessary risk of catastrophic damage to a country prone to earthquakes.
Towards a fully decarbonised power sector
Our analysis of 1.5°C compatible pathways shows emissions from the power sector need to peak immediately and could reach net zero by 2039, with negative emissions from then on. Reaching net zero power would involve a transition away from an emissions intensive electricity sector, with coal and gas needing to be phased out by around 2035.
The Philippines has installed 4.6 GW of coal fired power since 2015, and has 1.9 GW under construction and 10. GW in the pipeline as of July 2020. Coal projects represent over 80% of committed capacity as outlined in the latest Philippine Energy Plan 2018-2040.
The plan also includes a natural gas project (650 MW) with more capacity than the total of committed renewable projects (516 MW). The coal moratorium, although a positive step, excludes committed projects and expansions. The exclusion criteria risks investment in stranded assets.
The 1.5°C compatible pathways show the Philippines needs to phase out coal by 2034. For the coal moratorium to be effective, it would need to be applied to all coal plans, and additionally, implementing plans to phase out coal and gas by around 2034. These plans highlight the discrepancy between the future of the Philippine energy system and the need for rapid decarbonisation. These actions will require significant amount of international support to implement.