SMC drives proliferation of dirty energy, report says

June 16, 2023

A report released by the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) claimed that San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is the Philippines’ biggest fossil fuel expansionist.

“SMC is making a name for itself as a fossil fuel-obsessed corporation blind to both climate and environmental imperatives starkly confronted by the Philippines,” said Gerry Arances, executive director of CEED.

According to the report, titled “Will San Miguel Corporation power a world made better?”, SMC currently accounts for approximately 17% of the national power mix, with fossil fuels constituting 87% of this capacity. The company’s energy portfolio includes 2.9 GW of coal and 1.2 GW of gas.

“Having led coal expansion in the past, SMC now stands as the Philippines’ biggest gas expansionist with over 14 GW in the pipeline,” the report read. 

Arances said SMC’s energy directions of promoting coal and now gas “are costly not only to our planet and environment but also to the pockets of Filipino consumers”.

“By building our dependence on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG), SMC is cementing our exposure to volatile global gas prices for decades to come,” he said.

While SMC argues that fossil gas and LNG (liquified natural gas) could complement the integration of more renewables in the future, energy, and consumer welfare advocacy groups have raised concerns about their desirability.

“Current projections for the price of generating energy from LNG are up to three times more than that of renewables, which are as low as Php 3/kWh,” said Arances. “Last year, global prices for LNG power averaged as high as Php 16/kWh.”

Arances emphasized that SMC’s commitment to expanding energy storage for renewables, including battery energy storage systems (BESS), and its declared goals of reaching a 10 GW renewable energy portfolio are positive steps. 

However, he emphasized that SMC’s aggressive pursuit of LNG ambitions undermines these efforts, contributing to a legacy of dirty and costly energy.

“SMC seems to have failed to learn from the massive opposition it received in the past on coal, which led to many shelved projects. Today, it is damaging the Verde Island Passage for an LNG plant that does not have a power contract despite already nearing completion,” said Arances.

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