Energy is an essential commodity and a prime mover of development, and like many countries, the Philippines is on a quest for a long-term sustainable energy supply.
A reliable and affordable access to ample supply of energy will help ensure the realization of the Marcos administration’s socio-economic agenda, according to the Department of Energy.
Energy protects the purchasing power of families through energy cost reduction, reduces vulnerability and mitigates the impact of the pandemic by strengthening social protection. This generates more livelihood opportunities through energy security and provides green jobs through livable and sustainable communities.
Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, in a recent forum, pushed for a three-pronged approach to secure a sustainable energy supply.
“First is on diversifying sources of energy, especially developing indigenous sources of energy. And that is why the emphasis has been given to opening up the renewable energy sources, which is foremost in the agenda,” said Lotilla.
He said the government should consider other untapped sources of energy including nuclear power. “The tragedy of the past is that we tend to ban technologies, but our effort is to be open to all technologies, to make sure that they live up to standards that are set by the government,” the energy chief said.
The second approach is to improve the government’s general attitude [including those of local government units] towards investments at all levels in energy.
Lotilla cited as an example the delay in the repair of typhoon-damaged transmission lines because some local government units refused to have the lines rehabilitated.
“We’ve got to make all sectors realize that they cannot be blocking power projects that are going to benefit the entire country, if we are to see the sustainable development of our country,” he said.
The third approach is working together towards a more sustainable future.
“As we transform the economy, we must also focus on, not only on the indigenous sources but on others that can help improve the delivery of services to the country,” Lotilla said, adding that this includes relieving transmission constraints to stranded power around the country.
Lotilla said the Philippines, under the Marcos administration, is strengthening its commitment to attaining a sustainable low-carbon future.
“The use of greener energy sources is becoming the trend in the global energy landscape. Industrialized economies have pledged to prioritize energy transition strategies to shift from a low-carbon economy to a net-zero or carbon-neutral society,” Lotilla said in one of his speeches.
“However, for a developing country like the Philippines with scarce resources, this remains an ambitious goal as achieving it requires substantial capital investments, tighter policies and regulations and the deployment of next-generation technologies, among other considerations,” he said.
Lotilla said the government is asserting a more gradual clean energy transition, “as there is a narrow line to be crossed between balancing economic growth and consumer welfare, while still pursuing our sustainable environmental goals.”
The DOE crafted the Philippine Energy Plan 2020-2040 which captures the sector’s long-term goals, priorities and strategies in achieving a cleaner, more efficient, resilient and more sustainable energy system.
The country’s energy transition as envisioned under the PEP’s Clean Energy Scenario would be pursued through scaling up RE programs and projects; strengthening energy efficiency and conservation measures across different sectors; providing greater space for alternative and emerging energy technologies; integrating information and communications technology in the energy chain; and building up energy resiliency.
“In the long run, it will entail achieving the government’s Ambisyon Natin 2040 aspirations for every Filipino, our nationally determined contribution targets in accordance with the Paris Agreement, as well as our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goal in promoting clean energy,” Lotilla said.
“In charting a sustainable path towards clean energy, the department heeds the marching orders of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to accelerate and expand the development of our domestic energy sources to provide the Filipino people an energy supply that is both accessible and affordable,” Lotilla said.
One of the major strategies is to increase RE share in the power generation mix to 35 percent by 2030 and at least 50 percent by 2040.
Lotilla said the DOE would continue implementing pertinent policies and programs to further implement the RE Law. These include the National Renewable Energy Program, Renewable Portfolio Standards, Green Energy Auction Program, Green Energy Option Program and Net-Metering Program.
The DOE also established the Competitive RE Zones to identify 25 strategic areas across the country with the highest concentration of wind and solar resources.
Results indicated that the country has a total potential capacity of around 58 gigawatts of solar and almost 94 GW of wind energy.
Lotilla said offshore wind energy is another focus area in the RE sector. The Offshore Wind Roadmap for the Philippines identified 178 GW of OSW energy potential across the country, particularly in the areas of Northwest Luzon, Manila, Mindoro, Guimaras Strait and Negros/Panay West.
Meanwhile, Lotilla said the liberalization of foreign ownership for RE investments is a major development in the RE sector.
The amendment to Section 19 of the implementing rules and regulations of the RE Act now allows 100-percent foreign ownership of RE projects. This is expected to encourage the flow of investments in RE development.
Lotilla said the Philippines requires a dynamic private sector to take the lead in steadily increasing capital investment, given the limited fiscal space available to the government.
The energy chief encouraged the private sector to participate in the country’s clean energy transition where some 92,320 MW of new additional capacities are needed by 2040, with RE making up 80 percent of that requirement or about 73,000 MW.
“Higher private investment, especially direct foreign investment, would raise the country’s competitiveness and productivity through knowledge sharing and innovation,” he said.
“And with the relaxation of foreign ownership limitations on RE investments, we are optimistic that we will be able to stimulate the private sector’s interest in pursuing renewable energy projects,” he said.
Lotilla said the path toward securing a green energy future is in sight. “To make this happen, the government will need coordinated and inter-governmental actions with strong support from the stakeholders and the private sector,” he said.