Helping the world keep the lights on

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UGE’s Business Development vice president Joshua Rogol (right) and Business Development manager Sandeep Sharma visited the country to present businesses, as well as the opportunity of securing a $5-million Philippine Renewable Energy Fund program for the government

UGE’s Business Development vice president Joshua Rogol (right) and Business Development manager Sandeep Sharma visited the country to present businesses, as well as the opportunity of securing a $5-million Philippine Renewable Energy Fund program.

THEY are part of a committed team of individuals working together towards one goal: To make the world a better place by providing the most effective solutions to the world’s energy needs through distributed renewable energy.

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This is the advocacy of Urban Green Energy (UGE), whose Business Development vice president Joshua Rogol and Business Development manager Sandeep Sharma visited the country on July 28 to present businesses in the country, as well as the option of securing a $5-million Philippine Renewable Energy Fund program  through an energy summit held at the InterContinental Manila.

To do this, UGE has partnered with Orion Group International Inc., in order to provide potential clients an ideal setup in installing systems for renewable energy with low upfront capital investment.

Rogol explained to The Sunday Times Magazine, “UGE’s core mission is to solve energy challenges by leveraging the best renewable energy technologies. This involves both technical and financial innovation.

“The large Capex [capital expenditure]associated with distributed renewable energy [DRE] technologies often makes customer adoption challenging, [so that]the ‘holy grail’ is to package renewable solutions together with financing, so costs are spread out over time to coincide with consumption.”

Renewable energy is derived from replenishable sources such as the sun (solar energy), wind (wind power), rivers (hydroelectric power), hot springs (geothermal energy), tides (tidal power), and biomass (biofuels).

Energized partnership
The UGE-Orion Group International Inc. is a partnership that seeks to provide the Philippines with distributed renewable energy and help the nation cope with an impending energy crisis in 2015. (See related story in sidebar).

Their technology includes solar modules and vertical axis wind turbines with electronics and monitoring mounting systems.

Separately, UGE is a global leader in distributed renewable energy with headquarters in New York City. It offers remote site assessments, power plant system design, vertical axis wind turbine manufacturing, solar system design, monitoring and project financing.

UGE’s hybrid wind and solar systems are widely used to power telecommunications towers, commercial buildings, and municipal infrastructure including outdoor lighting.

Rogol informed, “UGE has completed 2,000 renewable energy projects in more than 90 countries worldwide.”

Meanwhile, Orion Group International, LLC (Orion) is an international construction management and consulting firm headquartered in Poulsbo, Washington, with offices in Bishek, Kyrgyzstan and Manila.

According to Orion Group’s executive vice president Engineer Raynor Jamandre, Orion established its office in the country in 2008 in partnership with Quantity Solutions Philippines that offers cost engineering and project management.

With the partnership of UGE and Orion, on-the-ground support with a global presence and expertise will be available in the country in order to create an ideal hybrid wind and solar system.

Local model
Ayala Land Inc.’s Anvaya Cove project stands as UGE-Orion’s first successful project in the Philippines. To demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and reduce its dependence on unreliable electrical grids, the top real estate developer tapped the expertise of UGE-Orion.

To begin, UGE-Orion first assessed the specific needs of the beachside resort site to enable its team to create the optimal solution for the project. As a result, they designed a custom wind and solar system that is feasible and therefore sustainable for the Ayala Land property.

How exactly does the hybrid system work? The solar component produces the majority of the energy, while the power generated by the wind turbines adds an extra layer of security that the resort will never run out of electricity.

Moreover, the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and wind turbines used in the system provide an aesthetic value to the beach resort and symbolize Ayala Land’s green pride.

According to Rogol, the Philippines is one of the fastest growing “cleantech markets” in the world, with government incentives designed to expand the use of renewables, as well as ideal weather conditions for distributed solar and wind.

Cleantech, as defined by www.ecoconnect.org.uk, “refers to technology, products and services which generate superior commercial benefits to customers while addressing significant environmental concerns such as global warming, sustainability of natural resources and energy security.”

The Philippine program
Renewable energy is an essential part of the Philippine’s low emissions development strategy and is vital to addressing the challenges of climate change, energy security, and access to energy.

The National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), according to the Department of Energy, is central to the Philippine Sustainable Energy Agenda. It outlines the policy framework embodied in Republic Act 9513, and sets the strategic building blocks that will help the country achieve the goals set forth in the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. From 2011 to 2030, NREP sets out targets for the delivery of renewable energy.

These goals are now possible with the availability of UGE-Orion Group’s $5 million first phase fund program in the country.

Benefits of a financed solution
Sharma explained the benefits of the $5 million financial fund in achieving renewable energy goals during the summit.

According to him, “The program makes use of a low upfront cost, and can save on electricity cost with consistent, predictable cash flows and protection against rising electricity prices.”

He detailed, “With this project, those who will avail of the program will have affordable payment schemes; hedge future electricity price increases; utilize international and local expertise to deliver the best available solutions and the lowest cost for the 25-plus years of life of the system; reduce carbon footprint; increase energy security; generate local jobs; empower businesses and reduce stress on the Philippine energy grid.”

The dream
“It’s the dream of Urban Green Energy to power the world with renewable energy,” declared Rogol whose work is to scale opportunities for UGE’s on-grid and off-grid energy solutions.

Rogol continued, “My personal mandate as the head of Business Development at UGE is to build relationships with the various key stakeholders in the renewable energy ecosystem: supply chain partners, corporate and project financiers, customers, regulators, politicians, and utilities. This involves understanding their respective needs, helping them to believe in our capabilities, and ensuring mutual value capture in the relationship.

“Ultimately, I’m responsible for leading a team that delivers the world’s best renewable energy solutions to current and respective customers, continuing to build our global partner network, and solving energy challenges, which include cost reduction, energy security, and sustainability.”

Rogol, is a Magna Cum Laude in International Relations and Environmental Economics from Tufts University. He is a founding member of Photon Consulting where he developed a multi-million dollar revenue-generating online market research platform to bring transparency to the photovoltaic (PV) industry. PV devices generate electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process that occurs naturally in certain types of material.

Rogol recalled, “I joined Photon Consulting in 2006 when the solar sector was still in its infancy. There were less than 3 gigawatts of annual installations then, but my team and I saw a very strong case for growth. As it turns out, we were right as in 2014, the expected annual installations for solar power is 46 gigawatts.

“Back then, the sector was very opaque, with complicated fundamentals. We wanted to help drive investment into equipment and the financing of projects, and the company eventually grew to about 40 people at its height.”

Explaining his career move, “UGE presented a very strong opportunity to pursue my passion of working on downstream DRE projects in a variety of developing markets around the world. Photon Consulting provided an extremely strong foundation for success in my current role.”

Renewable energy worldwide
Worldwide Institute reported that the year 2013 saw record-breaking growth for solar electricity generations as the PV and concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) markets continued to grow. With over 39 gigawatts installed worldwide, the PV solar market represented one-third of all newly added renewable energy capacities.

Europe accounted for the majority of global solar power consumption (67 percent), followed by Asia (23.9 percent) and North America (8.1 percent). Worldwide, solar consumption equaled 0.5 percent of electricity generation from all sources.

Green, great, fun
UGE and its staff believe in three core values: Be green, be great, have fun.

For Rogol, his aspiration is to find a way to deliver electricity to anyone in the world who wants it for $0.15/kWh or less.

“My mentor in helping me to develop this aspiration is the CEO of Photon, with whom I worked for more than seven years,” he related. “I’ve been privileged that I’ve been given a lot of opportunities and support throughout my life, and feel a strong obligation to pay it forward.

“On the environment, it is clear that there are massive challenges facing the world today. Energy is at the cornerstone of economic development, and without it, upward mobility is significantly hindered.

“In the Philippines, for example, energy cost and energy stability are major concerns. Prices are hovering around 10 Pesos per kWh [and rising], along with frequent three- to four-hour brownouts and blackouts associated with severe weather events. With supply not meeting demand, there is a clear energy crisis. My inspiration is to help people keep the lights on.”

Rogol believes that with his company’s expanded presence in Philippines, UGE’s vision of having greener future around the world will indeed become a reality.

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