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Philippines ready to move forward on renewable energy?

June 3, 2013 at 3:24 PM   |   Comments

MANILA, June 3 (UPI) -- The Philippines government has released guidelines for renewable energy projects to be considered for feed-in-tariffs as part of the country's target to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 to at least 15,000 megawatts of installed capacity.

The Department of Energy's long-awaited policy, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported Monday, requires 80 percent of the facility be built before applying for the FIT, after which the FIT could still be denied.

While the Philippines' Energy Regulatory Commission approved the FIT rates last July, delays in the deployment of the scheme, critics said, risked discouraging investment in renewable energy.

Power generation in the Philippines is still dominated by coal, at 37 percent, and natural gas, at 30 percent, and the government continues to move forward with more coal-fired plants.

"Despite the passage of the Renewable Energy Law in 2008, the DOE has been approving coal-fired power plants left and right, further stalling the development and mainstreaming of renewable energy systems in the country," Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Anna Abad told Inter Press Service.

A January Greenpeace report, "Green is Gold," indicates that in addition to the country's 10 existing coal-fired plants, 23 more are in the pipeline, at least three of which are slated for urban areas.

Those plants, once operational, will "edge out any potential for renewable energy and ... lock the country into use of dirty energy for the next three to four decades," Abad says.

Meanwhile, of the country's population of 94 million people, 3 million households don't have access to electricity and power outages are frequent. Electricity demand is expected to grow by 4 percent annually through 2015, fueled by economic growth.

A Japanese External Trade Organization survey released in 2011 states Manila's electric rates were 23 cents per kilowatt-hour, even higher than Tokyo and Singapore's rates of about 20 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Geothermal and hydropower account for most of the Philippine's renewable energy. Solar power remains largely untapped, and there's just one 33-megawatt commercial wind farm near Bangui Bay in Ilocos Norte, managed by North Wind Power Development Corp.

But Mario Marasigan, who heads up renewable energy in the Philippine's Department of Energy said there are two solar projects, three wind firms and several hydropower plants now in the pipeline.

"While prices for fossil fuels and diesel will only escalate in the coming years, prices for renewable energy will be pegged at the same rate for the next 20 years," Marasigan said.

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