It looks like things are going well for the country’s shift to renewable energy for its electricity requirement. The necessary elements appear to be present and both the government and the private sector are committed to make that move from coal and oil to clean energy sources happen.
President Bongbong Marcos gave that urgent shift the needed push in his first State of the Nation Address. He said, “the use of renewable energy is on top of our climate agenda.” “We must take advantage of all the best technologies that are now available, especially in the area of renewable energy,” the President underscored.
The good news is that the participation of the private sector in the shift to renewable energy has already been in high gear. Corporate giants are leading the transformation. For example, one group – which owns and operates a good number of the country’s coal-fired power plants – has put its resources behind renewable energy. One of its business units is reportedly expanding its portfolio beyond the “big hydro-power plants” into solar, wind and the smaller hydro-power plants using so-called “run-of-river” technology.
Another group is on a similar track. It announced that it intends to be “the largest listed renewables platform in Southeast Asia,” aiming to produce some 20 gigawatts of electricity from renewable power technologies by 2030.
Based on reports, as of July this year, some 58.5 percent of the country’s electricity is still generated using traditional fuel – coal and oil. Of the country’s 208 power plants, 21 are coal-fired. The good news is that some 35.5 percent of our power supply now comes from power plants running on renewable energy like hydro, solar and wind.
The commitment to the shift to renewables is great for the environment and, of course, for the health of our respiratory systems.
There’s more. According to the Energy Tracker Asia, an institute dedicated to studying the use of renewable energy, the shift could bring about other major benefits to the country: energy security and sufficiency; reduced reliance on imports; local economic development and a favorable investment climate.
There is one other major benefit that may not have been emphasized in the studies now being done. This is the accelerated economic and social development of remote communities where new power plants using renewable energy bring about.
A good illustration of this benefit is the power plant run by wind energy built by Alternergy Wind One Corporation in partnership with the Rizal provincial government. Nine years ago, the construction of that “wind farm” on 4,500-plus hectares of land owned by the Rizal provincial government in the hilly town of Pililla in Rizal Province began.
In 2013, the 27 “windmills” started to contribute some 54 megawatts of electricity to the national grid. The contribution is enough to supply some 66,000 households with power.
Barely a year after it started operations, close to 400,000 tourists from many parts of the country had visited that wind farm and stood at the view deck to have their pictures taken.
This is a new experience which can only happen in a “wind farm.” Coal and oil-fired power plants are high-security, off-limits facilities. Tourists are highly unlikely to come in droves and have their pictures taken inside such facilities.
At this point, Rizal is awaiting the completion of the second renewable energy-run power plant in the province. This is the 115-megawatt solar farm being built in a 130-hectare area in Barangay Pinugay, Baras.
Once completed, this new Rizal Province-based facility will be the biggest solar farm in the country.
Alternergy, together with the Rizal Provincial Government are also set to build their second wind farm in Rizal – bigger than the first one in Pililla. The proposed site of the 86.8-megawatt renewable energy plant is in Tanay. On top of this, two more studies are being done for renewable energy facilities that may rise soon in Antipolo and Binangonan.
Thanks to the commitment of the national leadership and the drive of the private sector, it looks like the age of renewable energy has dawned on our country.