A proposed law which could exempt the Philippinesgas-fired power plants from a requirement to run on a biodiesel blend has been backed by the nation’s Department of Justice (DOJ).

The requirement has been in place since passage of the 2006 Biofuels Law. It specifies that when gas-fired plants burn diesel fuel during maintenance periods, a blend that includes 2 per cent coconut-based biodiesel must be used.  

In a statement, the DOJ said the exemption aims to avert potential power shortages foreseen for the summer when the 2.7 GW Malampaya plant and one unit of the 1200 MW Ilijan plant in Batangas (pictured) will undergo maintenance.  

“To allow natural-gas plants to run on neat or pure diesel will help avoid rolling power outages, as it will make up for the limited capacity of the available units as when they are running on biodiesel,” the DOJ said, echoing concerns raised by the power sector which has pointed to expected reductions in efficiency.

Senator Sergio Osmeña, chair of the Senate’s energy committee, has reportedly claimed that the exemption would allow the Ilijan plant to generate an additional 160 MW. But he noted that the exemption would only come into force when the Department of Energy (DOE) has determined that there is the risk of a power shortage, and would only be granted for the duration of the shortage.