Philippines’ San Miguel to drop three coal power plant projects

Out-Law News | 13 Jul 2021 | 2:23 am | 1 min. read

SMC Global Power Holdings Corporation, the power generating arm of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), will not build three planned coal-fired projects with a total capacity of 1.5 gigawatts (GW).

The news was revealed in a letter that environmental research institution the Centre for energy, ecology and development (CEED) received from Philippines’ Department of Energy (DoE), according to a Business World report.

The proposed “discontinued” projects are SMC Global Power’s two 600 megawatts (MW) capacity circulating fluidized bed coal-fired plants in Pagbilao and Sariaya, Quezon and a 300MW project in Looc Malabuyoc, Cebu.

The DoE also gave updates on coal plants which were delisted in October 2020. They are a 300MW SMC Malita power plant project phase II expansion in Malita, Davao Oriental, the 600MW Merbau coal-fired thermal power plant in Pinamukan Ibaba, Batangas City, and the 300MW Ozamiz coal-fired power plant in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental.

John Yeap of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “The region relentlessly continues to turn its back on coal fired power. Whilst there are important reasons for doing so, energy transition is naturally much more than just reducing reliance on carbon intensive generation. In this respect the region’s response in terms of grid improvements as well as regulatory environment for large scale renewable generation seems to trail its enthusiasm for abandoning coal. Much remains to be done on both these fronts if the region is to truly capitalise on the potential of renewable power generation.”

In October 2020 the DoE announced it would stop development of new coal-fired power project except for a few projects which meet the exemption criteria. Meanwhile, the country started to allow 100% foreign ownership for large-scale exploration, development and utilisation in geothermal projects domestically.

In June, the DoE launched a roadmap to develop its potential offshore wind power projects, which is called “another key milestone for the energy sector” by its secretary Alfonso Cusi.