HOW MINE-MOUTH POWER PLANT DEVELOPMENT WILL LOWER ELECTRICITY COST IN THE PHILIPPINES
By: Arnulfo A. Robles, Ismael U. Ocampo and Mars T. Ocampo
With valuable insights from: Dr. Guillermo R. Balce
Paper was Presented during the COAL BUSINESS POLICY FORUM 2016 at the New World Hotel, Makati, 17 November 2016
The development of coal-fired mine-mouth power plants in the Philippines is one measure that can address the country’s need for electricity cost reduction, energy supply security and a shift from coal to renewable energy.
The use of mine-mouth power plants as a low-cost electricity development option in the USA, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos and Mongolia are cited as examples that can guide the Philippines. A review of coal resources in the country indicates 10 potential sites for mine-mouth power plants distributed in proximity to the electricity grid and HVDC substations. The estimated cost of generating electricity from these sites ranges from Php2.61/kwh to Php4.45/kwh, which is significantly lower than the average generation cost of Php5.425 in 2014.
Because mine-mouth power plants use indigenous coal resources, they can reduce the Philippines’ exposure to coal price volatility and protect the country from coal supply disruption due to commercial and political risks.
Coal-fired mine-mouth power plants utilizing circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) technology and low calorific value lignite can be converted to biomass-fired plants, which can use agricultural waste or wood chips sourced from systematic management of forest areas near plant sites. Thus, coal-fired mine-mouth power development is a potential measure in the country’s quest to shift from coal to renewable energy.
We therefore recommend that coal-fired mine-mouth power plants be given an incentive of priority dispatch similar to renewable energy plants. Benefits to host communities should be increased from 0.01 to 0.02 PhP/kWh (DOE 1-94) to encourage hosting of coal-biomass-fired mine-mouth power plants. COC holders and power plant investors should be encouraged to operate commercial biomass farms or industrial forest management areas in the vicinity of the plants to provide continuous fuel supply. The increment of 0.01 PhP/kWh may be shared among the barangays, municipalities and provinces to encourage the LGUs to host such power plants.
Inclusive economic growth is further assured by organizing the nearby communities into forest management cooperatives to plant and grow appropriate fast-growing tree species to supply the wood chip requirements of the coal-biomass-fired power plant. For instance, planting rubber trees that would provide rubber sap to a nearby rubber factory after 5 years would be ideal. This would provide immediate income after only 5 years up to 10 years when the rubber trees would be fully mature for wood chipping as they no longer produce rubber sap.
By planting specific areas in an organized manner, a continuous year-round supply of biomass wood chips is assured for the power plant, thereby extending the life of the mine-mouth coal reserves. Moreover, the biomass tree farm would ensure ecological balance within the surface/strip mine area. Once the coal reserves are exhausted or deemed expensive to mine, the biomass tree farm would ensure continued power plant operation, provide steady income to local communities and assure the supply of rubber sap to a nearby raw rubber factory.
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