CAN the Philippines become a global leader in energy-efficient and green technologies? Interest in renewable, alternative, or green energies seems to be ever growing in many countries as our strong dependence on fossil fuels is a major cause for global warming.
Aside from climate change issues, the depletion of non-renewable energy sources like gas, coal and oil is driving countries to change their energy policies.
Wind power is a part of this renewable energy reality. It is the fastest growing renewable energy source in the world. Windmills are used to generate electricity in many countries, including the Philippines.
The Lopez family-led Energy Development Corporation (EDC) informed the Department of Energy (DOE) last November 05 that its 150 megawatts (MW) Burgos Wind Project in Burgos, Ilocos Norte had achieved successful commissioning and is now connected to the grid and able to deliver 370 GWh of electricity, said to be enough to power approximately 2 million households.
The Burgos Wind Project is reportedly the biggest wind farm (in terms of size and investment) in Southeast Asia. It occupies a 600 hectare site covering three barangays in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, namely, Saoit, Poblacion and Nagsurot.
EDC has invested US$450 million in the project and recently closed a US$315-million financing deal with the support of EKF, Denmark’s export credit agency, and a group of leading international and local banks.
The fact that there is a growing confidence among banks to lend money for renewable energy investments only proves that they too believe in a green energy future.
Companies like EDC are showing the way to such a future. They are showing that more electricity could be generated without the need for dirty coal-fired power plants. They are showing that there are sustainable energy policies we could adopt that are more likely to succeed since they maximize our country’s natural resources and create cost-cutting alternatives.
EDC is the world’s largest integrated geothermal producer and one of the leading renewable energy firms in the Philippines, with a portfolio of 1,150 MW of geothermal, and 132 MW of hydroelectric power generation.
EDC has been known for its geothermal power projects but the company has successfully ventured into solar and wind energy sectors. It has one solar and six wind energy contracts from the Department of Energy. Aside from the Burgos Wind Project it is developing a solar project in Saoit village.
Renewable energy investments like the Burgos Wind Project generate a significant number of jobs and boost economic activity in the host communities.
These projects require the building and continuous maintenance of facilities that need local manpower. So with renewable energy, investments stay in the communities, creating jobs and helping local economies. When we spend our money and use our dollar reserves to import fuel, there is no such positive contribution to the economy.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Chapter 2 (Asia’s Energy Challenge) of its recently released 317-page report Asian Development Outlook 2013, urged Asian countries to deliver energy to all its citizens while scaling back its reliance on fossil fuels.
According to the report, Asia must change the way it consumes energy and start using clean-energy sources or suffer the human, economic and environmental consequences of its voracious appetite for fossil fuels by 2035.
By that year, the continent’s oil consumption will double, natural gas consumption will triple and coal consumption will rise to a whopping 81 percent.
“Asia could be consuming more than half the world’s energy supply by 2035, and without radical changes, carbon- dioxide emissions will double,” ADB chief economist Changyong Rhee said.
“In the Philippines, the contribution of renewables will shrink from 43 percent in 2010 to 14 percent in 2035, by which time proven indigenous gas and coal reserves will be depleted,” the ADB report said.
“Effective government leadership can mobilize behavior change in firms and households. The lesson for Asian governments is that they must take the lead in changing the mindset and culture of their citizens so that they use energy more efficiently and thus do their part to promote Asia’s energy security,” it said.
The World Bank reported in 2010 that electricity production in the Philippines from coal sources was 26.61 percent compared to other energy sources in 2009. Projections from various data banks said our country’s coal consumption has gone up as the government struggled to solve the country’s power shortages.
This is not the way to go. The Philippines has set a target to significantly increase its renewable energy capacity by 2030. The government aims to have an installed renewable energy capacity of 15,400 MW to account for half of the country’s power demand.
We need more modern, cleaner and greener energy services like the Burgos Wind Project to meet this target.
Let us not focus on carbon-emitting, climate-changing fossil fuel-based energy plants. Let us focus instead on renewable energy sources and help companies that invest in them.