Anna Abad, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace said that the country is “entering the age of coal.” Twelve more coal-fired power plants have been approved in the last two years under President Benigno Aquino III’s term. Six of these are located in Mindanao making the island a “new frontier” for coal-fired power plant projects.
By KENETTE JEAN I. MILLONDAGA
Davao City, Philippines – Mindanao is the “new frontier” for coal-fired power plants projects as six more of these power generation facilities have been approved in the island, five of which are in Davao del Sur, Sarangani, General Santos, Zamboanga City and Davao City, data from environmentalist group, Greenpeace cited.
The projected output of these power plants are placed at 1, 550 MW, higher than the 1,200 foreseen demand of electricity in Mindanao by 2016.
Anna Abad, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace said there are currently ten coal-fired power plants operating throughout the country with a total energy production of 4,527.10 MW, but 12 more are planned to be built in the next four years.
According to Greenpeace, the list could go up to 19, a situation which “will further lock the Philippines in to dirty and polluting fossil fuel for the next decade.”
Environmentalists consider coal as one of the ‘dirtiest’ sources of energy which causes irreparable damage to the environment.
Coal-burning power plants in biodiversity areas
Milagros Jabilles, a member of a national network of communities for clean renewable energy, Anti-COALition, said that the coal-fired power plant in their area in Maasim town, Sarangani is located within the Tampoan Marine Protected Area. The facility, Jabilles said, is operated by the Alcantara family-owned Conal industries.
Arnel Caranava, also a member Anti-COALition said that a 300MW coal plant owned by San Miguel Corporation is also about to be built in General Santos.
Although the said company has not disclosed the location of the coal project, Caranava said it is expected to be near a water source, which will affect the ailing tuna industry in the region.
Operating a coal-fired power plant would require 34,000 gallons of seawater every hour to cool down the coal plant’s steam boiler, Prof. Dario Morastil Ph.D., a fisheries educator in a state college in Malita, Davao del Sur said.
Taking seawater, he added, would also deplete the phytoplanktons, the essential food to sustain life in marine ecosystem.
The amount of water required to run coal-fired power plants would also potentially diminish water sources for drinking and other domestic needs, Juland Suazo, spokesperson of Panalipdan – Southern Mindanao Region said, noting that a 300 MW coal plant for instance would require 10,000 cubic meters of water per day for its operation.
Suazo said this will likely affect the Dumoy aquifer’s capacity to supply the need of Davao’s growing population of 1.4 million inhabitants, apart from displacing thousands of families for the plant’s construction.
Exhausting legal means
The group Anti-COALition committed “to exhaust all means available to stop the construction of coal-fired power plants” at the recent Environmental Law Course Workshop at the Ateneo de Davao University.
“We wanted to stress that the rights of the Mother Nature is over and above corporate rights,” said Dr. Jean Lindo, 3rd nominee of Kalikasan Partylist.
“Right now the Mindanao cluster of Anti-COALition is planning to file a case at the Supreme Court to protect the environment, marine ecosystems and watersheds against coal-fired power plants in the island,” said Suazo. (Kenette Jean I. Millondaga/davaotoday.com)