PHL urged to switch to ‘resilient’ renewables after the pandemic

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THE Philippines needs to grab the opportunity to power its grid post-pandemic with renewable energy, which have proved to be “resilient” despite the disruptions caused by the public health crisis, the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) said.

Clean energy was largely immune from global supply chain disruptions and has a role to play when the industry emerges from the pandemic, unlike other forms of power generation which had to import or otherwise transport their fuel.

“RE (renewable energy) plants have demonstrated resilience during the crisis as operating RE plants proved immune from global supply chain interruptions, for instance,” NREB Chairman Monalisa C. Dimalanta told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview.

However, during the hard lockdown between mid-March and May, she said there was no considerable increase in the share of renewable energy in the country’s generation mix, citing the spot market report by the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines.

“We do not see this resilience translate to a significant increase in the RE share during the (quarantine) period,” Ms. Dimalanta said, adding that coal remained the dominant power source.

NREB, which monitors the implementation of Republic Act No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act, said the country must recognize the potential of clean energy in powering its post-pandemic recovery as the cost of the technology is continuing to decline.

“As prices for RE technology continue getting more and more competitive compared to conventional fuel, we now have the choice of fueling the Philippines’ recovery plans with renewable, clean, and indigenous resources,” she said.

Meanwhile, with the unimpeded remittance of feed-in-tariffs (FiT) by the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) and the resumption of FiT-allowance collection, eligible generators no longer need to lobby for stimulus funds or incentives from the government.

“Since the (FiT-allowance) fund is still able to pay the RE FiT-generators and the distribution utilities are now resuming collection of payment from consumers to then remit payments to the generators, we do not anticipate any major adverse effects directly on RE generators that would make it imperative to request for an industry-wide stimulus package,” Ms. Dimalanta said.

The collection of the FiT allowance, which forms part of power users’ bills, was suspended during the quarantine period on order of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

The energy efficiency and solar industries asked legislators for a share of the stimulus package to support green projects when the Philippines stimulates the economy to recover from the pandemic.

The renewables board hopes to raise the share of combined hydro, geothermal, solar, biomass, and other clean-energy sources to 35% in the next decade, similar to its share when the Renewable Energy law was implemented in 2008. — Adam J. Ang





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