Renewables in the Philippines

Here’s the lowdown on climate change. It is real. You may deny it all you want but it won’t simply go away. The increase of global temperatures leads to catastrophic weather disasters. Greenhouse gas emissions are the culprit. Around 50% of which come from the energy sector powered mainly by coal and other fossil fuels. Thus the campaign to shift to renewables.

The energy mix of the Philippines is composed of 30% renewable energy (RE) installed capacity, 30% natural gas, 30% coal, and 10% oil. According to Atty. Jay Layug, Chairman of National Renewable Energy Board, the target for 2030 is to increase RE installed capacity from 30% to 50%. This is possible as the country has a lot of potential for renewables namely biomass, geothermal, solar, hydro, and wind.

However, as explained by Atty. Layug in a forum, there are challenges and mostly it’s the cost. Coal with its Php 3 to Php 4 generation rate is ideal for base load (minimum level of demand on an electrical grid over 24 hours). Hydro and geothermal could compete with coal cost-wise but it’s not easy to build dams plus there are also NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) issues to deal with. For geothermal, we have already tapped most of our reservoir.

How about solar? We can use this energy source at daytime. It can be stored but the price of battery is prohibitive. Nevertheless, solar can replace the more expensive diesel.

We should understand that the low cost of coal is because the negative impacts to health and the environment are not captured in the price. Carbon pricing, putting cost to carbon pollution, can give us a clearer picture of how costly coal really is.

We can still develop as a nation if we stop using coal and other fossil fuels. If we think long-term, in the context of sustainable development, it can be done.

Author: Ryan Bestre

Environmentalist. Teacher. Writer.

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