Onward to cleaner energy systems


SHARING the vision of powering up the country through clean, efficient and sustainable energy systems, the Department of Energy (DoE) is planning to promote the Philippines as a location for businesses that are ready to invest in renewable energy.

A report from multinational business consulting firm Capgemini revealed that the Philippines has been heading renewable energy developments in Southeast Asia.

Issued last month, the report said the developments could still raise the presence of the renewable energy footprint by targeting off-grid areas.

It cited the country for continuing to lead the region in implanting renewable energy projects, which help to minimize its carbon emissions.

According to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the country’s carbon footprint amounts to only 0.40 percent.

“We have hydro, geothermal, solar and wind and we are a pioneer in that. In fact, our installed capacity, 54 percent is from renewable energy while for generation capacity, 32 percent is from renewable energy,” he said.

DoE Secretary Alfonso Cusi says that the government is pursuing an innovative, competitive and sustainable energy environment by facilitating investments during the 29th Energy Investment Forum on December 7.

Although this may result in higher power rates, the DoE eyes a sustainable energy environment in facilitating investments through lower tariffs.

Cusi said it was much lower than the feed-in tariff rate during the past administrations.

“This development results in lower tariffs on energy that should translate to lower power rates for consumers,” he noted.

According to the agency, the renewable energy projects could help the country meet its electrification goals through microgrid developments, which may include storage, wind or solar projects.

The DoE believes that it is better to go to countries where energy is cleaner even if it is costlier.

“I really hope that investors will have that kind of positive outlook toward countries like us that have cleaner sources of energy,” Cusi said.

Among all renewable energy sources, the DoE said hydroelectric power plants have the biggest share of installed capacity, reaching 3,637 megawatts (MW) or 16.8 percent of the total mix as of the first half of the year.

On the other hand, geothermal power plants contributed 1,906 MW or 8.8 percent; solar power plants, 843 MW or 3.9 percent; wind power plants, 427 MW or 2 percent; and biomass power plants, 224 MW or 1 percent.

Smart technologies
The DoE previously announced the creation of a smart grid coalition to uphold the country’s efforts in adopting smart technologies.

Using smart energy technologies would lead to energy being used more efficiently, giving consumers more environment-friendly choices, according to the department.

“Smart energy technologies promote efficient energy use, reduced energy cost and ‘greener’ energy options to households and the energy sector,” Energy Assistant Secretary Rendentor Delola said.

He added that smart technologies are accessible in the market and could follow the best environmental practices for industries.

Such technologies could also ensure energy efficiency in government buildings, Delola said.

In line with the promotion of smart technologies, the DoE is also looking at high efficiency motors to lower energy and life cycle costs.

It also pursues the use of electric vehicles and implementing the Government Energy Management System (GEMS), which seeks to reduce the government’s monthly energy consumption by at least 10 percent from consumption levels in 2015.

The department is looking too at solar photovoltaic systems, efficient cooling systems and pumps, light-emitting diodes, advanced energy monitoring and controlling technologies and battery or energy storage products.

“For us to guide consumers, service providers and regulators, we should not lose sight of the basic concept that smart grid technology is simply a tool for consumers and energy users to be more active and efficient in the utilization of energy,” Delola said.

Meanwhile, the DoE announced that it targets to establish a 25-percent reserve requirement on the electricity available to consumers to secure the country’s power supply.

Cusi said the DoE is also looking at requiring the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to have a 25 percent reserve covering the system peak demand.

Under the NGCP’s concession agreement, the reserve requirement would be on top of the regulatory reserve, contingency reserve and dispatchable reserve.

“In their concession, they must have that regulating, contingency and dispatchable reserve. So, on top of that, we are looking at 25 percent of peak demand,” Cusi said.

According to the DoE secretary, the department requires the 25-percent reserve to ensure that the country will meet the 17,338 MW with the additional capacity required by 2030.

“[This is] to meet our growth needs and further 43,765 MW needed by 2040,” he said.

Cusi noted that the Philippines needs $4 billion to $5 billion in energy investments to meet the 25-percent reserve requirement.

After calamities that adversely affected Filipinos and the economy, the DoE has vowed to establish a policy for a resilient energy sector.

“The policy is a priority of the DoE, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements to improve the disaster preparedness and resiliency of the country,” Cusi said.

“Being one of the most vulnerable countries to disasters, the Philippines needs to ensure that our energy systems are disaster-resilient and that resiliency is an integral component of our policies and programs,” he added.

The policy also ensures continuous delivery and strengthening of existing energy infrastructure, as it requires all energy players to put upfront the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction programs into planning and investment.

Last June, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 29, which renamed the National Disaster Consciousness Month to National Disaster Resiliency Month, marking the shift from disaster awareness building to disaster resilience.

The policy has four guiding principles: acknowledge the need to strengthen the existing energy infrastructure, facilities and systems to prepare and mitigate the impacts of disasters; implement the build back better principle in terms of reconstruction and rehabilitations of damaged infrastructure; improve existing operations, maintenance and procedures to ensure continuous operations and energy supply; and develop resiliency practices, systems and standards that will be used as basis in future construction of energy facilities.


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