Politics

Optimizing natural gas in a shift to renewed future

3 Mins read

Beyond pioneering the source, First Gen Corporation taps natural gas as the first step to decarbonization

Climate change has become widespread, rapid, and intensifying, with some trends already deemed irreversible, as a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released last August stressed. The effects of climate change are increasingly felt across the globe, and the Philippines is not spared from these.

Back in 2019, a report by the think tank Institute for Economics and Peace points the Philippines as the country most vulnerable to climate change as it has the highest natural hazard risk score. More recently, the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 by Germanwatch ranked the Philippines as one of the most affected countries by extreme weather effects from 2000 to 2019, mainly recurring catastrophes such as tropical cyclones.

Moreover, according to a UNICEF report published last August, children in the Philippines are among those most at risk of the impacts of climate change, threatening their health, education, and protection.

A large part of this intensifying climate change is caused by greenhouse gases (GHGs) trapped in the atmosphere, many of which are a result of heavy dependence on traditional sources of energy, such as imported oil for transport systems and coal for power generation.

As addressing climate change now becomes more crucial than ever, decarbonization, or the process of reducing the carbon intensity of emissions, is a critical move that organizations and industries must take if they are going to sustainably recover in the new normal.

Decarbonization pushes for the increase of low-carbon power generation, along with the reduction of fossil fuel use. This, eventually, gives way for a widened and full use of renewable energy, which translates to a more livable future.

In responding to a crisis the IPCC considers a “code red for humanity,” decarbonizing power generation is a significant step that is now imminent to mitigate the worsening effects of climate change.

Transitioning to 100% renewable energy (RE) is no easy task. Using cleaner fuels like flexible natural gas, nevertheless, is a fitting way to start as it can complement renewables while the transition to RE is just beginning.

Natural gas emits up to 60% less carbon dioxide than coal, and it leaves behind no harmful pollutants such as ash and sludge, or other harmful by-products. This makes the source a cleaner alternative for our health and the environment, as well as a fitting means of paving the clear pathway to decarbonizing the country. Moreover, natural gas plants are able to generate power quickly to address any changes in demand or drop in supply. As such, aside from being clean, natural gas also provides valuable support for increased development of intermittent renewable energy.

Having seen the potential of natural gas long before the pressing call to a transition to RE, First Gen Corporation pioneered its use in the country. Anchored on its responsibility to the environment, the firm believes in the important role of natural gas in helping the country’s transition to 100% renewable energy.

“Our commitment to clean energy and the environment is what drives us to invest in natural gas and renewable energy,” First Gen Corporation said, adding that as the entry of more variable RE requires more flexible power sources, natural gas will continue to be a crucial fuel source alongside the transition to a renewable future.

“By using natural gas, the country is able to use reliable electricity, at GHG emission rates that are much lower than other fossil fuels like coal,” the company added.

The company owns and operates four natural gas-fired power plants at the First Gen Clean Energy Complex in Batangas. These are the Santa Rita, San Lorenzo, and San Gabriel combined-cycle power plants, and the Avion open-cycle power plant, which altogether carries a combined installed capacity of 2,017 megawatts (MW).

In 2020, First Gen Corporation’s natural gas power plants prevented 6.9 million tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted. That’s equivalent to removing 1.5 million cars from the road.

Natural gas plants are also reliable and are flexible. These plants can provide power in as fast as 15 minutes, which means they are able to adapt quickly to changes in power demand.

Such flexibility is crucial in supporting RE sources like solar and wind that, while sustainable and becoming increasingly more affordable, are intermittent. When there is not enough sunlight or sufficient wind speed, solar and wind power plants are unable to provide electricity.

Before the country can be mainly powered by renewable energy, natural gas is the most fitting energy source in the transition to a decarbonized future. The combined use of natural gas and RE is the beginning of the country’s transition to a decarbonized future, which includes an eventual phaseout of natural gas. Until RE sources can stand on their own, natural gas will be used as a back-up fuel to keep the lights on.

First Gen Corporation, with its diversified and flexible portfolio of power plants that use steam, water, wind, solar, and natural gas altogether, is well-positioned to address the need to balance the intermittency with RE sources as the world transitions to a decarbonized energy future. Learn more about First Gen’s services by visiting www.firstgen.com.ph.

Spotlight is BusinessWorld’s sponsored section that allows advertisers to amplify their brand and connect with BusinessWorld’s audience by enabling them to publish their stories directly on the BusinessWorld Web site. For more information, send an email to online@bworldonline.com.

Join us on Viber to get more updates from BusinessWorld: https://bit.ly/3hv6bLA.