Power generation, consumption down for the first time since 2003


Electricity generation and consumption nationwide have gone down on a yearly basis for the first time since 2003 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent mobility restrictions, based on data from the Department of Energy (DOE).

Power plants produced a total of  101,756 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2020, a 4.04% decline from 106,041GWh in 2019. Prior to this, generation consistently increased annually from 52,941GWh in 2003 to 99,756GWh in 2018.

Broken down by plant type, oil-based facilities suffered the biggest drop at 34% to 2,474GWh from 3,752GWh in 2019. Natural gas plants produced 19,497GWh, 12.8% lower than the 22,354GWh recorded the previous year, while renewable energy plants generated 21,609GWh, a slight decrease from 22,044GWh the year prior. 

Ironicallycoal plants managed to generate a bit more power at 58,176GWh from 57,890GWh in 2019.

Excluding the power utilities’ own use and system losses, electricity consumption nationwide for the year also dropped to 83,243GWh, 4.45% less than the 87,118GWh posted previously. Before this, consumption likewise consistently went up annually from 42,720GWh in 2003 to 82,617GWh in 2018.

Consumption in the Luzon Grid, which includes Metro Manila, went down to 72,419GWh, 4.93% less than the 76,177GWh figure recorded in 2019. Electricity use in the Visayas Grid, meanwhile, slightly fell to 15,485GWh from 16,060Gwh. On the other hand, only the Mindanao Grid posted a hike, though only a slight one at 13,852GWh from 13,805Gwh the year prior.

Despite the low power demand due to the lockdown restrictions, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines previously warned that there could be a power supply shortage in Luzon this summer.

The DOE echoed this call, saying that a yellow alert or a thin power reserve supply is possible up to this week and again for a month from the fourth week of May.

The simultaneous tripping of power plants and restricted output from the Malampaya gas field have spurred high prices in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

Back in August 2020, the DOE forecasted a total peak demand of 11,841 megawatts (MW) for Luzon for the year, which is expected this May. Nonetheless, department officials has assured that the projected demand won’t be reached. The Luzon Grid accounts for around 70% of the country’s power demand.