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Power crunch

The country is likely to experience a power supply crunch during the summer months next year due to increasing demand, only one new generating plant entering the power grid, and several power plants badly needing maintenance shutdowns that have been delayed by the pandemic.

Power demand is expected to rise next year as the economy starts to recover and restrictions loosen, Quezon Power (Philippines) Ltd. Co. managing director Frank Thiel said during the Asian Power Thermal Energy Conference last week.

In the latest report of London-based think tank the Economist Intelligence Unit titled “Industries in 2022,” global energy consumption is projected to rise by 2.2 percent next year as economies recover from the impact of the pandemic. It added that all types of energy, apart from nuclear power, would benefit from the projected rise in demand.

But for the Philippines, the rising demand would be served only by one new power plant coming on stream next year, Thiel said.

“I think it’s going to be a very difficult summer. I think only one power station has come into the energy mix in Luzon, up north – a 660 megawatts super critical coal power plant. Aside from that, there are no new power stations coming into the market,” he said.

Another concern for the power sector is that not enough maintenance works were implemented for several power plants during the pandemic due to travel restrictions.

With the upcoming elections, power generators will have to squeeze in all maintenance works before or after the critical national and local Election Day.

A government that had almost two years of low power demand should not be caught flatfooted by the expected return of demand once the economic activities that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic start to wind up once more. While it may have taken some time to adjust to the new normal, there should be no excuse why maintenance activities and the constant addition of new, hopefully green power plants were paused all throughout the pandemic.

Is this happening because the people running the Department of Energy have been preoccupied in a different sort of power all this time?*

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