The search for alternative energy sources – Manila Bulletin
In March, Meralco warned that soaring crude oil prices globally could lead to higher production costs. Indeed, this month only, the distributor already announced an increase in the fee per kilowatt hour (kWh). Since then, consumers have surely been scrambling to find ways to live on a tighter budget during the hottest season of the year. All of this has only amplified long-standing calls for the country to find alternative energy sources, such as renewables.
In 2008, the Arroyo administration signed Republic Act No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act to accelerate the development of the nation’s renewable energy resources and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. However, since the enactment of the law, the country remains heavily dependent on energy sources such as coal. In fact, in 2021, the head of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Renewable Energy Management reportedly said that the share of renewables in the nation’s power generation mix had actually dropped since signing. of the law, from 34%. at 21 percent.
Recognizing this problem, the drafters of the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) 2020-2040 set a target to increase the share of renewable energy to 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2040 – a target which proved to be very timely given the volatility of the price of oil.
This transition to alternative energy sources has become a trend in many countries, even oil-producing countries, over the years. For example, in 2021, Saudi Arabia announced its goal to have 50% of its energy mix used in electricity generation from natural gas and renewable energy sources by 2030. , the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also last year announced plans to invest heavily in renewable energy in line with its goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. With today’s high oil prices, many analysts, as pointed out by the Oxford Business Group, predicted that more governments would seek to develop their respective renewables. energy resources.
For the Philippines, the missions set out in the NREP include increasing geothermal capacity by 75%; 160% hydro capacity; biomass, wind and solar capacities; and the development of the country’s first ocean energy facility. Meeting these targets, according to NREP estimates, would generate more than 9,800 megawatts (MW) of additional capacity by 2030, bringing our total installed capacity to approximately 15,000 MW.
The opportunity to deploy more renewable energy sources in the Philippines has long been known. In 2017, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) noted that the country has enormous potential for this type of energy, considering that the Philippines does not have “significant deposits of fossil fuels”. WWF pointed out that the country has the capacity to further develop these resources even before 2030.
In the meantime, a parallel discussion has already started on the prospect of nuclear energy. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said they are actively pushing for nuclear power to minimize reliance on oil imports. More importantly, President Duterte ordered the creation of an inter-agency committee to examine the feasibility of integrating nuclear energy into the country’s energy mix. In fact, the DOE has announced a restart plan for the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) which was built in 1984 but never became operational.
Many countries are now considering this type of energy. A compelling draw is its low carbon footprint.
According to the nuclear fuel cycle company Orano, nuclear “emits 70 times less CO2 than coal, 40 times less than gas, four times less than solar, half as much as hydroelectricity and as much as wind power. “.
However, due to the disastrous effects of nuclear accidents seen around the world, debates for or against nuclear power are expected to continue for many years to come – particularly over the prospect of reviving the put under BNPP. cocoon, which the DOE said would cost $1 billion over four years.
Notwithstanding the resulting problems, the Philippines should always actively explore and develop alternative energy sources. This would not only contribute to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and address the existential threat of climate change. It would also reduce the negative impact on marginalized sectors of high energy prices and the knock-on effects on basic goods and services. With the end of the Duterte administration, it is important that his successor continues and improves on what has already been done to lead our country into a “greener” and more energy secure future.
E-mail: [email protected]| Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @sonnyangara
Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years – nine years as a representative from the solitary district of Aurora and six as a senator. He has drafted and sponsored over 250 laws. He is currently serving his second term in the Senate.
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