THE PHILIPPINES should start viewing energy efficiency as a new infrastructure asset class that the government can use as an added resource in planning its energy mix, or the ideal combination of resources to support its power requirements.

“We’re not looking at a figure yet. We want to see how — any energy market, whether the Philippines or otherwise — can quantify targets. So that is still a work in progress. Even the US is struggling, even Japan is struggling,” said Alexander Ablaza, president of the Philippine Energy Efficiency Alliance (PE2), in a chance interview.

In a separate statement on Thursday, he said the local economy needs to mobilize $243 billion in energy efficiency capital to harvest 45,900 megawatts from the demand-side of the Philippine energy market in the next 21 years.

“We’re not looking at a figure yet,” he said when asked to quantify the future share of energy efficiency in the energy mix.

The idea is to use the energy harnessed by introducing energy efficiency and conservation measures to offset new coal-fired power plants.

“So the next five to 10 years, the challenge of the global movement right now — because the IEA (International Energy Agency) has formed a high-level commission for urgent action on energy efficiency — is how do we pave the way so the energy mix planning of any country fully integrates energy efficiency as a resources,” Mr. Ablaza said on the sidelines of the three-day Philippine Infrastructure Conference at Manila Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.

He said the independent IEA commission will examine how progress on energy efficiency can be rapidly accelerated through new and stronger policy action. He said through the last decade, the agency has become more convinced that, more than any single fuel, energy efficiency has a central role to play in meeting global sustainable energy goals.

He said IEA analyses have shown that with the right policies, the global economy could double in size by 2040 while still maintaining broadly the same level of energy use as today.

He said such policies would enable the world to achieve more than 40% of the emissions cuts needed to reach international climate goals using available cost-effective technologies.

“Taking baby steps, UK and the rest of EU have already classified energy efficiency as infrastructure so that’s the first step, and that’s what we should do here,” Mr. Ablaza said.

On April 12, 2019, the Philippines passed Republic Act No. 11285 or the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act.

“The President’s approval of the bicameral-endorsed bill of the 17th Congress has finally shifted the energy-consuming market from the inertia of the 29-year voluntary market to one of policy-driven market transformation,” PE2 said in a statement on Thursday.

The organization said that with the new law, “the Philippines finally rejoined the global movement of accelerating energy efficiency markets.” — Victor V. Saulon