MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy (DOE) is undertaking a study to repurpose coal-fired power plants into biomass waste-to-energy (WTE) power plants after issuing a policy on veering away from coal developments.
The study follows the issuance of the policy on biomass WTE facilities, DOE-Biomass Energy Management Division chief Ruby De Guzman said in an interview with The STAR.
Last month, the DOE issued department circular 2022-02-0002, which prescribes the policies and programs to promote and enhance the development of biomass WTE facilities. The circular took effect on March 18.
This as the agency recognizes that biomass WTE facilities — which is under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 — simultaneously achieve the twin economic benefits on local government units’ (LGUs) solid waste management and provision of additional source of power.
“Under the circular, one of the scenarios we see is repurposing coal fired power plants to biomass WTE plants,” she said.
For the study, the agency will test this scenario on STEAG State Power Inc.’s 210-megawatt (MW) coal-fired thermal power plant in Misamis Oriental.
“We are now doing an initial study, and we are basing our evaluation from our engagement with an ASEAN project, wherein the project in 2019 looked into the possibility of biomass co-firing it with coal in Indonesia. This is what we’re looking at when we do the initial evaluation or study on the STEAG power plant in Misamis Oriental,” De Guzman said.
The DOE is targeting to complete the study within the year, beginning with an initial coordination with the agency’s Electric Power Industry Management Bureau.
“We are getting the technical parameters. Hopefully by next month, we could have initial coordination with STEAG,” De Guzman said.
The said power plant commenced operations in November 2006. It was built through a Build-Operate-Transfer scheme, with the National Power Corp. (Napocor) as the other party to the Power Purchase Agreement with a period of 25 years.
German firm Steag GmbH is selling its 51 percent stake in the power plant to SPC Power Corp. and affiliate Intrepid Holdings Inc. — with SPC acquiring 40.5 percent and Intrepid purchasing 10.5 percent.
The other shareholders in SPI are Aboitiz Power Corp. with 34 percent and La Filipino Uygongco Corp. with the balance.
In October 2020, the DOE announced a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants as it recognized the need for the country to shift to a more flexible power supply mix.
In its updated Energy Plan 2020-2040, the DOE seeks to make renewable energy account for 35 percent of the Philippine energy mix by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.