Gov’t data lack delays cleaner energy shift

Posted on May 07, 2015

THE PHILIPPINE government has yet to take the first step in fully adopting renewable energy technologies because these remain expensive and data regarding the country’s power requirements remain insufficient.

This was revealed by Mary Ann Lucille L. Sering, vice-chair of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) during a sit-down interview with BusinessWorld editors on Wednesday.

“Some say solar is beautiful but in all practicality it’s costly. At the end of the day, it’s the willingness of the consumer to pay. But it’s already there, it wouldn’t be far [behind], given the increased purchasing power of Filipinos. Number two is the lack of data to give us information. But at a certain point, this data will allow us to choose renewable energy because it will allow us to power our electricity even in times of disaster,” said Ms. Sering.

She said that the CCC is coordinating with the Department of Energy (DoE), but among many things, “what we’re looking at is the assessment on vulnerability,” said Ms. Sering.

Although the Philippines does not emit as much greenhouse gases as other economies, it can still afford to use power plants fueled by coal, considered as the dirtiest but cheapest fuel source. It also uses a lot of water, the commissioner said.

The problem with the Philippines, according to Ms. Sering, is that everybody’s okay with whatever energy source as long as it’s affordable, despite its environmental impact.

“They’re not looking at renewable energy, they just want energy at the lowest cost possible,” she said.

The Philippines is “not a large emitter, therefore we still have an allowance to emit. So then we can say [let’s use] coal and fossil, [but] we don’t have that analysis yet. We want cheap electricity but in the event of less water. It should be energy resiliency. Solar uses less water [but] don’t look at its prices,” she said.

All these considerations form part of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) that the Philippines -- as well as 192 other countries -- will submit for the new international climate agreement in Paris in December this year.

These INDCs will indicate what nations have agreed to undertake to support a low-carbon in the future.

“We’re studying to see how much of can we really say it’s renewable. Other countries are so bold, Germany wants 100% renewable energy. While we’re saying we can’t be this much, there are other sectors where we can get our emissions like transport, which uses a lot of energy.” -- Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman