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RE target missed amid expanding energy need

The Department of Energy (DoE) missed its renewable energy (RE) target amid a projected increase in the country’s power requirement.

This comes as Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the country’s energy requirement was seen to increase four-fold by 2040, or an average of 5.7 percent a year under a high economic growth scenario.

Despite this, however, the DoE said it has fallen short of achieving its RE goal, prompting the agency to review its program aimed at raising the country’s RE capacity by almost threefold by 2030.

“With the Philippines growing steadily over the past five years, the demand for energy has also been rising rapidly,” Pernia said in a speech at a forum on Renewable Energy and Waste-to-Energy PPPs in Makati City.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

In 2018, Pernia said, the country’s dependable energy supply was at 21,241 MW while the total peak demand was at 14,782 MW. From 2014 to 2018, the Philippines’ total energy consumption has been growing at an average of 4.22 percent per year.

However, only around 7,300 MW of RE capacity were injected into the country’s energy mix based on DoE’s assessment covering the years 2011 to 2017, DoE’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau (REMB) Director Mylene Capongcol said in a chance interview in the same event.

“We still need to go a long way to achieve our RE goal,” Capongcol said.

On the other hand, National Renewable Energy Board Chairman Monalisa Dimalanta said: “Targets for some technology [have] exceeded by three times like for solar. But for others, we have not met the targets. If we average it, we have not met the target.”

NREB is the bureau guiding the DoE on the implementation of RE initiatives in the country.

Dimalanta said they intend to push further the harnessing of geothermal resources in the country by closely coordinating with the National Geothermal Association of the Philippines (NGAP).

They are also exploring ways on how to be more creative in providing assistance to developers as well as tapping financing so that the entire equity will not be earmarked for the pre-development phase since this stage requires significant investment, she said.

The DoE is currently reviewing the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), which seeks to increase the RE-based power capacity of the country to 15,304 MW by 2030, almost triple its 2010 capacity level of 5,438 MW, the energy officials said.

Capongcol said the country’s existing renewables capacity was 5,000 MW by the time the DoE released NREP in 2011. She said there were delays in promulgating policy mechanisms including renewable portfolio standards for on-grid and off-grid areas, Green Energy Option Program, and RE market.

“What we’re doing is re-evaluate the program so that we can see why we did not meet the target, what work do we still need to do… For the new NREP, we’re looking at the timeframe 2020-2040,” Dimalanta stated.

Coal-fired power plants made up 37.8 percent of the total energy installed capacity of 23,815 MW followed by RE with 25.5 percent; natural gas, 20.9 percent; and oil-based facilities. 15.8 percent, according to the DoE’s 2018 Power Demand and Supply Highlights report.

Energy security is emphasized in the Philippine Energy Plan 2017 to 2040 of DoE which outlines anticipated changes and sets goals for the energy sector by 2040. The Philippines is heavily dependent on oil imports, making it vulnerable to price volatility.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the DoE is committed to “explore, explore, explore” in its pursuit of energy independence, security, and sustainability through the effective and reasonable development of all indigenous energy resources in the Philippines.

DoE data said an annual average of only five wells have been drilled in the country from 2007 to 2017.

Last month, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said a leading energy company has started discussions on a “natural oil exploration project” with the military and officials in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in the southern Philippines.

The resources in Liguasan Marsh in the BARMM is said to be rich in natural gas deposits and has the potential to rake in revenues for the country.


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