Over two billion people globally lack sufficient power to support social and economic development. Over one billion have no access to power at all. Changing that will require the effort of governments and business in partnership. Delivering the energy that is needed while minimising the environmental impact will require continuing drives for efficiency in power generation. That’s true right here in the Philippines.
According to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, electrification in the Philippines stood just below 80% by the end of 2014. That means an estimated 3.4 million Filipino households held back from the developmental benefits of simply having a light that turns on with the flick of a switch. If we’re to achieve the admirable government target of providing electricity to 90% of households by 2017, and the wider goals of meeting energy needs into the future, then we must understand the challenges, and commit to delivering the correct solutions.
The importance of a sustainable energy mix
In the wake of the recent Paris Climate Change Summit, it’s clear the importance of an efficient, sustainable power mix to provide for global energy needs. Renewable energy in particular has a huge part to play in that. As technologies develop to deliver greater power generation at higher efficiencies, so too must develop our willingness to adopt them. Yet that is also true of more traditional elements of the energy mix, such as coal.
With over 900 billion tonnes of reserves globally, coal continues to provide an affordable means of power generation and energy security. That’s true here in the Philippines, where coal is likely to play a vital role in the country’s expansion of affordable, reliable power.
Of the Philippines dependable energy capacity today around half is generated by coal-fired or diesel-fired power plants. Around one third is produced by natural gas and roughly 10% from renewables such as geothermal, solar, wind and hydropower. Yet meeting the economic needs of a growing nation could well see coal’s role in that energy mix greatly expanding.
A number of new power plants are currently under construction in the Philippines. 70% of these will deliver coal-fuelled power. While the Philippines government has announced a welcome and widespread consultation on the future of the nation’s energy mix going forward, it’s still clear coal has an important part to play in meeting the nation’s energy needs. Understanding the importance of delivering efficiency in that power generation is key.
With its low cost and established supply chain within the country, it would be naïve to think that the options for coal are simply do we use it, or do we not. The choice at hand, is do we use it efficiently?
Smarter. Cleaner. Steam Power.
To meet the demands of the future, efficient technology that lowers emissions, is needed.At GE we have developed a portfolio of technologies to meet this need for smarter and cleaner energy. Our ultra-supercritical double reheat steam power technology means delivering the best in class, helping the Philippines meet its energy needs while ensuring that coal power is delivered in the most efficient way possible. Our technology can deliver up to 49% efficiency against the global average of 33%. And every point of efficiency reduces operating costs over the lifetime of the plant, while reducing CO2 emissions by two percent. If the question is do we use coal efficiently, then at GE, we can answer yes.
At GE we understand that the impact on the local environment is as much a factor as the wider natural world. Our technology reduces both greenhouse and non-greenhouse gas emissions to meet and exceed the strictest global environmental regulations and provide cleaner air for local communities. With our industry leading environmental controls, our coal solution delivers pollutant removal rates of greater than 98% of SOx, 95% of NOx and 99.9% of all particulates. As the world’s regulations become even stricter, our technology is ready to respond.
Our role as a digital industrial company means we employ digital technology that can increase efficiency up to 1.5 percentage points over the life of the plant, reduce coal consumption and CO2 emissions by 3%, and allow for 5% less unplanned downtime. By monitoring and analysing data from more than 10,000 sensor inputs across the plant, GE’s Digital Power Plant for Steam helps plant operators make smarter decisions about how to optimally run their power plants, achieving better performance, greater efficiency and improved reliability while lowering environmental impact. This solution helps eliminate 0.58 Gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions—equivalent to removing 120 million cars from the road or adding 550 million square miles of forest absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.
GE’s technology also delivers benefits in upgrades to existing generation capacity. At the POSCO Pohang Works steel manufacturing facility in Pohang, Republic of South Korea, GE recently retrofitted existing steam turbines to extend operational life and nearly double the turbines’ ability to generate process steam used for steel production.
What efficiency and experience can deliver
Emissions targets are admirable goals in their own right. More than ever we must strive to deliver those efficiencies at every level of the power generation mix. That is especially true in coal, where the rewards for efficiency are staggering: raising the global efficiency of coal fired power generation to 40%, a full 9% lower than the optimum efficiency of GE’s technology, would save 2 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions. According to IEA figures, that’s more than the emissions from the entire of Southeast Asia for a year.
Yet alongside the benefit of efficiency come significant advantages in infrastructure financing. GE’s technology delivers lower operating costs and reduced emissions, meaning investment in these plants offers a far more attractive proposition to lenders. The 230 years we’ve spent delivering best in class power infrastructure offers the evidence to back that up.
GE’s advanced technology and digital capability mean lower lifecycle cost, profitable growth and improved delivery time. GE projects saving customers globally as much as US$1 billion in operational and maintenance costs over the next decade thanks to this advanced digital portfolio. GE also offer something else: reliable power, delivered efficiently. There’s no doubt, coal is set to play an important role in meeting energy demands for the future. GE is here to deliver the efficiency to make it work.