Sunday, November 05, 2023

BWorld 651, Coal and nuclear power as growth drivers

Coal and nuclear power as growth drivers
October 26, 2023 | 12:02 am

My Cup Of Liberty
By Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr.

(Part 3 of a series)

We go straight to the numbers. I construct this table showing the changes in consumption per capita of coal and nuclear power of various countries over two decades, and 2002 and 2022. Data sources are: 1.) Annual data in terawatt-hours (TWH) coal and nuclear consumption from Energy Institute, Statistical Review of World Energy (EI-SRWE) 2023, and, 2.) Population and annual GDP growth from IMF World Economic Outlook (IMF-WEO) 2023. Then I computed the per capita consumption and average GDP growth.

The numbers and trend show that, 1.) decarbonizing, de-coal, de-nuclear power countries have experienced a significant slowdown in GDP growth bordering on degrowth, 2.) carbonizing, high coal and high nuke power consuming countries experienced flat or increased economic growth, and, 3.) India and the Philippines (and other developing countries) still have very low coal use per capita, about 1/20 or less compared to many countries in the table, and yet are being endlessly bullied to cut their coal consumption.

So there. The numbers are actual, straightforward, and clear, not hypothetical or garbled. Of course, there are many other factors why countries have fast or slow growth but since almost everything in modern and developing economies require energy, the high coal and nuclear (and gas) consumption by countries enabled them to grow fast, industrialize, and improve the standard of living of their people. When they reverse track, de-coal and even de-nuke, they grow slowly, bordering on stopping growth which will come soon.

When I was in Nice, France last week for the Tholos Forum 2023, a three-day conference on free markets, consumer freedom, and energy realism, the bright lights of the boulevard in Cote d’Azur alone were a tourist attraction. Strangers and visitors can walk safely under the bright and beautiful lights. France is a powerhouse in nuclear energy generation.

The Philippine government, business and civil society leaders should bear this in mind. Our main priority should be fast growth, creating more jobs and businesses for our people. Not the globalist agenda of ecological central planning and energy rationing.

Meanwhile, many energy issues were recently reported in BusinessWorld.

1. On decarbonization: “ADB pitches farm decarbonization as food security issue” (Oct. 2), “Industry ponders the ‘long road’ before hydrogen becomes viable” (Oct. 15), “‘Smart and green’ infra being readied to serve offshore wind industry” (Oct. 16), “Adjustments to next PHL Energy Plan expected to reflect rapid developments in renewables” (Oct. 19), “World Bank estimates Philippine decarbonization bill at $62 billion” (Oct. 22), and, “China wind power firms may invest $4 billion, BoI says” (Oct. 24).

2. On the rollout of electric vehicles (EV): “EV industry anticipating upside surprise in vehicle penetration over next 5-10 years” (Oct. 18), “Extension of import duty concessions seen as crucial for growing EV adoption” (Oct. 19), and, “DoE sees extent of EV rollout depending on policy coordination with other agencies” (Oct. 22).

3. On the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP): “NGCP wins approval for 4 ancillary services contracts” (Oct. 9), “NGCP seeks gov’t support to meet tight deadline for connecting Batangas, Mindoro” (Oct. 11), “Mindanao-Visayas grid link expected to be complete by end of 2023 — NGCP” (Oct. 12), “NGCP asked to submit ECCs, contracts ahead of review” (Oct. 16), and, “ERC rejects NGCP petition to amend rules on transmission wheeling rates” (Oct. 17).

4. On nuclear power development: “APEC councils to conduct roundtable on nuclear power viability” (Oct. 23), and, “Energy dep’t says push to satisfy IAEA nuclear power requirements underway” (Oct. 24).


Last Tuesday, Oct. 24, I attended the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) virtual forum, “Fueled by Change: Understanding Nuclear Energy Transition.” The opening messages were given by Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Jan de Silva of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, and Sabin Aboitiz, the President and CEO of Aboitiz Group and also the Lead Strategic Convener of the Private Sector Advisory Council to the Philippine government, Co-Chairman of the ABAC Sustainable Growth Working Group, and Steward of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism.

The program was hosted by smooth-speaking engineer and fellow UP alumnus Suiee Suarez who is the Vice-President for Corporate Affairs of Aboitiz Power. After the three main speakers have spoken, Mr. Suarez turned over the moderation of two panels to Ruth Yu-Owen, President of Upgrade Energy Philippines. There were four speakers (from Canada, the Philippines, Japan, China) each in Session 1, “Collaboration and financing for nuclear energy transition,” and Session 2, “Nuclear energy integration and innovation.” These were financial and technical or engineering discussions.

A summary of the forum was reported by Sheldeen Joy Talavera in her report in BusinessWorld, “Energy dep’t says push to satisfy IAEA nuclear power requirements underway.”

The projected high EV rollout will soon require a huge supply of electricity. From the current average of six terawatt-hours (TWH) annual increase in power generation, we should increase this to nine to 10 TWH annually. This cannot be provided by intermittent wind, solar, and biomass, and even by geothermal or small hydro. It can only be safely and reliably delivered by huge thermal plants (oil, gas, coal) and nuclear power.


I watched Silver Lining the Musical last Sunday at RCBC Plaza’s Carlos P. Romulo auditorium in Makati. Wonderful acting, dancing, and singing by a big group of talented actors and singers. The auditorium itself is testament to the need for a huge, ample supply of electricity — plenty of lights, a cold big room, good sounds and audio.

The composer and lyricist of Silver Lining, Jack Teotico, a fellow UP School of Economics alumnus, says the musical is the story of the baby boomer generation. It is about brotherhood and fraternities, class parties and ligawan/courtship, triumph in university basketball competitions, falling in love for the first time, old flames and crushes, quo vadis about the world, and so on.

The last shows will be from Friday to Sunday, Oct. 27-29. Then the venue will no longer be available. It is a bright work of art that deserves a re-run in other theaters or auditoriums next year and succeeding years. Good job, Jack, Rockitwell band and studios, the players and singers.

See also:
BWorld 648, Energizing growth: Lessons from UAE, France, and other countries, October 29, 2023
BWorld 649, On smoking, vaping, consumer choice and life expectancy, November 02, 2023
BWorld 650, Financing growth: Maharlika Fund and SWFs from abroad, Novermber 03, 2023.

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