WWF urges govt to raise renewable energy target

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The World Wildlife Fund Philippines (WWF) has challenged the government to raise its renewable energy (RE) target from 30 percent to 50 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2030, saying that RE investments have already saved the Philippines P4.04 billion since 2008.

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Citing a report by the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), WWF-Philippines said that the offset of fossil fuel costs over the past eight years amounted to a savings of 5.67 centavos for every Filipino, generated more local jobs, and reduced the country’s carbon emissions by 2.8 million tons.

In view of those gains, WWF-Philippines called on the government to raise its target for RE in the country’s energy mix from the current 30 percent goal to 50 percent by 2030.

“With the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017 until 2022 now being finalized, we challenge the government to increase the share of RE to 50 percent by 2030,” WWF-Philippines climate and energy program head Gia Ibay said.

“Green and sustainable development fits perfectly with the administration’s mantra of ‘Malasakit, Pagbabago at Kaunlaran’ (compassion, change, and prosperity) because RE provides affordable, sustainable and accessible electricity – especially for remote communities,” she added.

Reduce import reliance

WWF-Philippines said that renewable energy sources like geothermal, hydro, wind, biomass and solar energy are among the country’s few competitive advantages, because it has no significant deposits of fossil fuels. As a consequence, the group explained, continued dependence on imported fuel has made Philippine electricity rates among the highest in Asia.

“Relying more on RE has brought down the cost of electricity with fuel diversity, shielding Filipinos from price fluctuations as no fuel cost is incurred. This shows the care or Malasakit of the government, particularly coupled with increased energy access with distributed RE reaching off-grid communities,” WWF-Philippines said.

Renewables currently account for just under 30 percent of the country’s energy mix, according to data from the Department of Energy.

The government-led National Renewable Energy Plan (NREP) aims to triple RE capacity to 15,304 MW by 2030, which would still be about 30 percent of the energy mix as other generation sources such as coal would also increase during the period.

“WWF thinks it (the government) can do much better,” Ibay said. “We urge the government to ramp-up its RE efforts by fast-tracking RE mechanism implementation, setting clear targets on RE, and promoting a more level playing field for all energy-generating technologies.”

“The PDP should reflect the change or Pagbabago that we now see in the global arena – the shift away from the traditional mindset that the solution to our power needs is through the same old type of thermal-fired plants like coal. Our national development plan should realise the move towards distributed energy systems as it fits with the country’s archipelagic nature, while increasing grid reliability, decreasing costs and improving resilience to natural calamities,” she added.

‘100% RE possible’

In 2014, WWF-Philippines published a study, “Building Momentum for Low Carbon Development,” which presented a roadmap for 100 percent RE power generation, based on the country’s potential RE resources.

In the study, WWF concluded that the Philippines could develop as much as 1,200 MW of geothermal, 2,308 MW of sustainable hydro, 235 MW of biomass, and 7,404 MW of wind generation capacity before 2030.

WWF-Philippines also called for more local power development planning to supplement distributed energy, as this would empower local communities to craft their own energy path.

“We’ve already seen how RE can save us money by shielding us from the price volatility of fossil-fuels like gas, oil and coal, 90 percent of which are imported at wildly-fluctuating prices,” added Ibay. “Shifting to renewables is our least expensive chance to achieve energy independence while fighting climate change. Moreover, it is perfectly in-line with the Duterte administration’s plans to achieve progress and energy security.”

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