The Department of Energy (DOE) should ensure there is ample coal supply and prevent an increase in the prices of coal following the Indonesian government’s decision to ban its coal exports this month.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the ban is a cause of concern as most power plants in the country relies on coal. Indonesia is also the biggest supplier of coal in the country.

The Philippines derived 57.17 percent of power generation from coal as of 2020. If insufficient, this could lead to widespread blackouts across the nation, the lawmaker pointed out.

“Part of the contingency measures should be to ensure the adherence of coal-fired power plants to the 30-day minimum inventory requirement (MIR),” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy.

“The government should also consider looking for other suppliers especially in the coming weeks given the possible decline in stockpiles coming from Indonesia which could result in soaring coal prices,” Gatchalian added.

Citing records from the DOE, the senator said that as of October 2021, the Philippines acquired 96.88 percent of imported coal supply from Indonesia, 1.82 percent from Australia, 0.35 percent from Vietnam, and 0.94 percent from other exporting countries.

Of the total 42.476 million metric tons of coal produced and imported in 2020, 69.51 percent of which were imported and 30.49 percent came from local sources.

However, this development could be a wake-up call to the government as well, Gatchalian pointed out.

“This could be a wake-up call as well. The government should probably start rethinking and be more committed in reducing the share of coal by further diversifying our generation mix,” the lawmaker stressed.

Gatchalian explained there’s around 28,000 megawatts (MW) of potential capacity from renewable energy (RE) sources based on awarded service contracts.

“If we maximize the 28,000 MW, we don’t need to import coal and we don’t need to import natural gas,” he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (