Energy players push shift to renewables

POWER TALK (Clockwise from upper left) Manila Times columnist Ben Kritz, WeGen Philippines Chairman and President Charlie Ayco, Developers of Renewable Energy for Advancement Inc. President Jose Layug Jr., Manila Times Business Editor Conrad Cariño and Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella speak during the TMT online forum, ‘Boost the future of power stakeholders’, on Friday, April 29, 2022. SCREENGRAB FROM TMT FACEBOOK PAGE

ENERGY stakeholders on Friday underscored the urgency of transitioning to renewable energy (RE) in the country and said the government can help attract more investments in the sector.

In a virtual forum organized by The Manila Times, Jose Layug Jr., president of Developers of Renewable Energy for AdvanceMent Inc., said the Philippines has a lot to offer RE investors, especially now that legislation promoting alternatives to fossil fuels is in place.

“We just need to make sure that the government enables them, and we need to declare as a fundamental policy of the government that we should have preferential bias for cleaner forms of indigenous energy resource1s,” Layug said.

Layug noted that the Philippines has abundant RE resource1s and should push for it instead of relying on traditional fuel.

Layug said RE is cheaper than conventional fuel and allows the country to be less reliant on imported fuel resource1s.

REs never deplete and have lower carbon emission, he said.

Layug added that another reason to push for RE is that “we don't produce a lot of oil, hardly. We don't produce a lot of gas… and definitely we don't produce a lot of coal… So, you can imagine if we have little resource1s, then we use our own indigenous energy resource1s.”

Citing data from the Department of Energy (DoE), Layug said that as of 2020, the country generated 7,653 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in installed capacity and 6,825 MW in dependable capacity.

He stressed the need for the government to be fully involved in RE development, particularly in streamlining the requirements needed in building power plants.

“It starts from [the] government. Be an enabler, don't create barriers so that we will allow more RE developers to put up more power plants,” he said.

Charlie Ayco, WeGen Energy Philippines chairman and president, said one problem the country faces in developing renewables is concentration risk, which is inherent in how the grid is being organized.

To address the risk, Ayco called for a decentralized distributed energy system and building small household and community solar installations bundled into one system.

Another risk Ayco mentioned is energy or fuel source1. He said the country still relies largely on coal, gasoline, diesel and natural gas.

He said this can be addressed through diversification, especially in renewable energy.

“Even if the cost of energy or the cost of diesel or the cost of coal will increase 200 to 300 times, they are already covered or they are protected from that because…the energy produced by these solar installations is already fixed. It will not fluctuate,” Ayco said.

In a recorded message to the forum participants, Energy Undersecretary William Fuentebella highlighted the innovations and technologies implemented by the government in energizing off-grid communities.

“We are promoting the productive uses of renewable energy that not only ensures electrification of households in off-grid areas, but also mechanizes agricultural processes, which will help provide credible income generating possibilities for our rural communities,” Fuentebella said.

The government plans to replicate and scale up the program for “widespread use and increased commercialization,” he said.

“We will now work with projects not only for technology demonstration, but should also demonstrate feasibility and at the same time increase economic activities for our far-flung communities,” he added.

Fuentebella said the DoE is working on the draft rules and regulations of Republic Act (RA) 11646, expected to be finalized in May.

RA 11646, the “Microgrid Systems Act,” aims to “promote the use of microgrid systems in unserved and underserved areas to accelerate the government's goal of total electrification in the country.”

Fuentebella said the department recorded a 95.4 percent household electrification level in December 2021, equivalent to energizing 25 million households.

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