institution debunks clean coal myth, opposes global clean coal
November 27, 2017
QUEZON CITY – The
Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), an independent,
think-do institution engaged in issues of energy, environment, and
development in the Philippines, expressed opposition to the
convening of a global clean coal alliance – a proposal made by the
US Delegation to the Conference of Parties (COP23).
According to CEED
Research, Policy and Advocacy Officer Arvin Buenaagua, “coal is the
dirtiest of all fossil fuels. Its consumption emits sulfur dioxide,
nitrogen oxide, mercury, and other particulate matters. It is a huge
contributor to smogs, air pollution, and acid rain, which in turn
causes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Calling it clean is
The myth of “clean coal”
is premised on the development of technologies that would supposedly
reduce harmful emissions and their escape into the atmosphere. One
of these technologies is the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), which
aims to capture carbon dioxide emissions and subsequently store them
in underground saline aquifers or depleted oil and gas fields.
technologies come at exorbitant costs, and with a dismal track
record. “According to the Global CCS Institute, it is estimated that
$100 billion annually will be spent to develop CCS technologies.
Retrofitting these to older coal plants would most likely cost even
more,” claims CEED Legal Officer Avril De Torres.
“The recent suspension of
operations of the Kemper County plant in Mississipi shows that
“clean coal” technologies are decades far from being fully developed
and widely deployed. The Kemper County plant was envisioned to be a
flagship, cutting-edge project that would pioneer coal gasification
and CCS technologies. And yet, after years of delay and billions
spent over its projected budget, Kemper County plant’s operations
lasted for only 200 days. Operations were abruptly suspended due to
issues with its “clean coal” technologies,” added De Torres.
Additionally, a recent
research conducted by the Institute for Energy Economics and
Financial Analysis and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable
Cities predicts the imminent stranding of all existing and future
coal plants in the Philippines. The stranding of coal plants will
inevitably include “clean coal” technologies with it.
In the context of the
urgent global climate action ushered in by the Paris Agreement, and
the continuous drastic decrease in the cost of renewable energy, any
talks of forming a global clean coal alliance is misplaced and
A new research from Morgan
Stanley already states that numerous key markets have reached an
inflection point, where renewables will become the cheapest form of
energy in less than three years.
According to De Torres,
the Philippines is already experiencing a drastic drop in the cost
of renewables. “Just two months ago, a solar company entered into a
power supply agreement with Meralco, the biggest distribution
utility company in the country, at P2.99 kWh. This is a rate that is
much lower than the average coal electricity production price of
coal plants in the pipeline at P3.66 kWh,” she explained.
According to government
data, the Philippines has a vast untapped RE potential at 250,000
MW. If properly utilized, the country is set to be an RE leader in
Southeast Asia. Thus, the claim that the Philippines has no choice
but to generate electricity from coal cannot be farther from the
“Coal is coming to its
end. There is no need to further invest in and develop technologies
that would “clean” an obsolete and dirty energy. Any talks of
alliance should be focused on decarbonization and the advancement of
renewables” concludes Buenaagua.