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Philippines launches coal-fired power plant

ILOILO, April 1, 2011 (AFP) – Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday inaugurated a new coal-fired power plant that has attracted criticism from environmental and church groups.

The 164-megawatt plant on the central island of Panay will supply power to islands in the central Philippines, ending months of daily power outages that have plagued the region, Aquino said at the event.

He made no mention of previous protests against the plant but acknowledged the need to develop alternative energy sources.

“We should start exploring new sources of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and hydropower that are abundant in your area,” Aquino said, without elaborating.

However Amelie Obusan, climate and energy campaigner of the local Greenpeace office, said the establishment of a coal-fired plant would make it harder to tap local renewable energy sources.

“This eases out the entry of some renewable energy projects in the area,” she told AFP.

Obusan said the central islands had been identified as having vast potential for wind and biomass energy, and expressed hope that such sources could still be tapped.

About 40 percent of the Philippines’ electricity comes from renewable sources such as geothermal, hydroelectric and wind, according to government data.

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