The Right Mix: The Philippines Achieving Its Renewable Energy Goals

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - The global energy system is undergoing a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. There are clear signs that the pace of change is accelerating. 2009 was the second year in a row that more money was invested worldwide in renewable electricity generation projects than in fossil fuel-powered plants, according to data published by the United Nations.

Developing countries, especially in Asia, are taking a lead role in this transition. The Philippines is one of the countries on track to be a leader in Asia's shift to clean energy, if it continues to pursue ambitious goals and makes the right policy choices.

Many people are under the impression that the transition to renewable energy is being led by developed countries, while developing countries follow. To the contrary, a recent working paper by the World Resources Institute (WRI), called "Grounding Green Power," found that developing countries are at the forefront of renewable energy policies.

Already, the majority of installed renewable electricity capacity is located in developing countries. If all of the recently announced policies are implemented by 2035, developing countries will gain more than 1,476 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity; more than the projected 1,389 gigawatts of fossil fuel-based electricity or 178 gigawatts of nuclear power during the same time frame, according to projections by the International Energy Agency. This compares to just 851 gigawatts of combined additional capacity from renewable, nuclear and fossil sources developed countries are expected to build.

In the case of the Philippines, the pursuit of renewable energy is essential for energy security. The Philippines has very little fossil fuel resources, but is blessed with abundant renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, biomass, ocean, small hydro and geothermal.

The Philippines had surpassed Japan as having the highest electricity rate in Asia, according to International Energy Consultants, an Australian consulting firm. The cost of transmitting power and transporting fuel to the more than 7,000 islands of the Philippine archipelago and to isolated missionary areas is very high.

Pursuing renewable energy development is essential for the Philippines to attain energy security and economic sustainability, while helping to mitigate climate change and its devastating impacts on vulnerable places like the Philippines.

A World Leader?

The Philippines could be considered one of the world leaders in renewable energy, with more than 30 percent of its power generation coming from renewable resources. The Philippines is the world's second largest producer of geothermal power and was the first country in Southeast Asia to deploy large-scale wind and solar technologies.

The Renewable Energy Act passed in 2008 calls for new support mechanisms, including a feed-in-tariff and a renewable portfolio standard, which are expected to be implemented in the next months. Additionally, the Philippine's Department of Energy launched the updated National Renewable Energy Plan this month, which aims to triple renewable energy supply by 2030.

To ensure success, Philippine decision makers have invested time and energy in figuring out the best way to implement the Renewable Energy Act, including establishment of the National Renewable Energy Board. In collaboration with other agencies such as the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Board works to ensure that the National Renewable Energy Plan and the mechanisms foreseen in the Renewable Energy Act are implemented. …