Caution pressed in renewable energy push

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A PLAN to expand the country’s renewable energy (RE) portfolio needs “careful study” — even if it is a step in the right direction — in order to prevent passing the burden to consumers, the chairman of the Senate’s energy panel said.

“Growing the renewable energy sector is a crucial factor for the Philippines to achieve energy security by 2040. By collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) to craft concrete plans to grow the renewable energy sector, the Department of Energy (DoE) has put itself right on track of its energy direction,” said Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian in a statement on Thursday.

However, he said to ensure its success and prevent any unnecessary pass-on charges to consumers, the two agencies “must conduct a careful study on the program, especially when it comes to the implementation of the green energy tariff rate, taking into consideration the declining costs of RE technologies.”

“Will this new tariff require subsidy and if so, how much will the rate effect on consumers be? These are some of the things that the DoE needs to thoroughly study before they push through with the plan.”

Mr. Gatchalian noted that in the past committee hearing on energy security, the DoE “painted a grim picture” that the contribution of renewables in the country’s energy mix is expected to shrink to 17% in 2040 from 36% in 2017 under its business as usual scenario. He said he was hopeful that through the new DoE and NREB proposal to build a renewable energy portfolio of 2,000 megawatts by offering a green energy tariff, “we will be able to grow the share of renewables in our energy mix.” — VVS