Push for solar, renewable energies, ‘coal-minded’ Malacañang urged

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Pushing for solar power as the world’s cheapest form of new electricity generation, members of civil society and renewable energy advocates on Thursday reiterated their call on the Duterte administration to review and adjust its energy trajectory, which relies heavily on coal for generation of electricity.

“The government can no longer hide under the guise of development in its support for coal,” said Gerry Arances, Head Convenor for the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED). “This latest report from the renewable energy sector confirms that not only does solar energy provide cleaner energy, but [also]more sustainable and cheaper electricity for all.”

Arances was referring to a recent report from the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), a team of experts in cross-sectors and cross-geography trends spread across six continents, shows that solar now outranks wind as the cheapest form of renewable energy, and is outperforming coal and gas as well.

The report showed that solar energy prices in China, India, Brazil and 55 other emerging market economies have dropped to about one third of its price in 2010.


This is owed largely to China’s massive tapping into solar power, and the assistance it had provided to other countries financing their own solar projects.

“Aside from cheaper electricity, solar energy that is gathered and distributed through community-managed ‘mini-grids’ can also solve the problem of energy’s costliness and riskiness in the countryside,” according to Arances.

“Increased government support for solar energy would also enable communities in far-flung areas to finally be electrified, something that coal, which relies heavily on large mega-grids for distribution, has failed to do,” he said.

The CEED has been vocal in highlighting the increasing economic cost of coal, as it is projected by economic experts as stranded asset, meaning that Filipinos will end up paying more for electricity generated from coal-powered plants in the next 25 years in their electric bills, as the technology is becoming more and more obsolete.

“Despite this, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) leads us to relying on more coal for the next 15 years, instead of transitioning away from it,” Arances said.

According to the PEP, coal is set to have a big share in the country’s primary energy supply even under a low-carbon scenario, with coal still having a growth rate of 4.8 percent, giving it a 25.2 percent average share in the primary energy supply, he added.

JING VILLAMENTE

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