WWF: Renewable energy is the best solution to power crisis
MANILA, Philippines – Renewable energy must be integrated as the primary solution to the power development plan of the Philippines, the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature said.
The Philippines can actually learn from its own experience in renewable energy to prove that it is the best solution to the country’s power needs, the WWF pointed out, citing how the country invested heavily in hydro and geothermal energy in the 1970s which now produce 13.67% and 14.4% of electricity, respectively.
“Many renewable systems can be installed quickly. They produce electricity at a stable rate. They are de-coupled from foreign supply. They are also insulated from price increases dictated by international markets,” the WWF said of the benefits of renewable energy.
The Department of Energy's predicted shortfall in power supply will mostly affect intermediate and peak loads. Thus, intermediate or peak power plants are required to address coming needs, the WWF pointed out.
Peak demand periods for highly industrialized grids such as the Luzon grid usually stretch from 10 am to 2 pm, when demand for electricity is at its highest but the optimal operating hours for certain renewable energy options like solar energy correspond precisely with these periods of high demand, WWF said.
Other indigenous renewable energy options like hydro and biomass can be used to complement existing base-load and intermediate power plants, WWF suggested.
Renewable energy is affordable
The imbalanced reliance on foreign fossil-fuels makes doing business in the Philippines very risky, WWF-Philippines vice chair and CEO Jose Ma Lorenzo Tan said.
“Fossil-fuels are a finite and dwindling resource. Their emissions also exacerbate climate change, a needless aggravation. Do we really want to compete with larger countries like China and India for fossil-fuel resources on the world market? No, especially when we have abundant and readily available renewable energy sources whose costs will remain stable, and well within our control,” Tan said in a statement.
WWF also pointed out that under the government’s feed-in tariff (FiT) system, renewable energy can provide a stable source of electricity at a constant price for years to come.
Under FiT, renewable energy projects are guaranteed a rate for the electricity they produce per kilowatt hour (kWh) that will be held constant for the next 20 years, with the Energy Regulatory Commission doing periodic reviews to adjust the rate for foreign exchange and inflation.
“In contrast, not a single fossil-fuel dependent power project is ready to hold their prices for 10 years, not to mention that the cost of bunker and diesel-fired plants are even higher than solar and wind power FiT rates,” the WWF said.
The average cost of power generated by diesel power plants starts at P12 ($0.27) per kWh, making the cost of this electricity extremely expensive, it added.
The price for electricity from renewable energy can only ever go down – and will never increase, the WWF stressed. In contrast, the International Energy Agency forecasts a steady increase in the cost of coal and other fossil-fuels over the next decade, thus increasing the cost of living and doing business.
The WWF cited the recent pronouncement of Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla who said, “The FiT is a testament that while renewable energy seems to be more expensive than traditional energy sources, admittedly it is needed because it is essential to the country’s energy security."
Solar and wind energy as long-term solution
With less than a year until the anticipated summer power crisis in 2015, the WWF stressed the need to view renewable energy as the primary long-term solution, noting the power plants running on solar and wind energy are the fastest that can be deployed to meet this specific type of electricity demand.
The construction and operation of solar power plants take only 6 months. Angela Ibay, WWF-Philippines climate change and energy program director, said these types of power plants will produce electricity at a constant rate that will not fluctuate, unlike fossil-fuels which are affected by the foreign exchange rate.
Based on the provisions of the Renewable Energy Law of 2008, renewable energy plants will only receive payment for actual electricity generated, thus eliminating the costly provisions of the past take-or-pay contracts that add stranded costs to the consumer’s electricity bill, regardless of whether that electricity was used or not.
“In most cases, the cost of fossil fuels is directly passed onto the consumer,” Ibay said.
Contributing to the solution
The WWF said in a statement that it is currently working with the DOE on bottom-up, localized energy planning for the different provinces of the Philippines, starting with Palawan, as part of its Seize Your Power campaign.
“The country needs to stop focusing on renewable energy as simply a generation issue. It is actually a system operation issue. If the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, you can plan ahead and take that into account,” said Christopher Ng, WWF-Philippines climate change and energy program communicator.
“A proper energy plan just needs to be in place,” added Ng, who is working on the Seize Your Power campaign in Palawan.
And if President Benigno Aquino is granted additional powers to address the power crisis, renewable energy must be seen as part of the solution, the WWF said.
“In the long-term, we hope to develop systems in order for renewable energy to compete toe-to-toe with traditional energy resources and eventually lower the cost of electricity.” – Rappler.com
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