A blessing in disguise: Russia-Ukraine war spurs consciousness for renewable energy | Inquirer Opinion

A blessing in disguise: Russia-Ukraine war spurs consciousness for renewable energy

/ 05:01 AM June 01, 2023

The unforeseen Russia-Ukraine war, which raised fuel prices to unprecedented highs, has come to be a blessing in disguise for the Philippines. It has led Filipinos—especially those from the private sector—to be conscious of the country’s geographic endowments and utilize them in augmenting our power supply and lessening our carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, as a reminder of our recurrent energy conundrum, yellow and possible red power alerts are again expected in June, August, September, October, and November. A realistic mix of current energy production data show an undesirable picture of power source breakdown: coal, 47 percent; natural gas, 22 percent; oil-based, 6.2 percent, and renewable energy (hydro, geothermal, wind, solar, biomass), 24 percent. The first three are the cause of our high power rates as they are mostly imported, not to mention that their by-products cause pollution.

We really need to increase the renewable energy (RE) component of our power mix and, fortunately for us, we are blessed with a geographical location whose features provide just this. But it appears that, more than the government, it is the private sector that has become conscious of our natural blessings, and we see this in its earnest ongoing and planned investments in renewable energy production.

There is Vicente Perez’s Alternergy Holdings Corp. which is currently operating solar and wind projects with a total capacity of 67.24 megawatts, with plans of developing 62 MW more from hydro and solar projects. The Ayala group’s ACEN Corp. is currently developing a 160-MW wind farm project in the northern town of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Aboitiz Power Corp. has its Cleanergy program that produces power from hydro, solar, geothermal, and wind projects with a current total capacity of 1,000 MW of RE power, which is planned to be increased to 4,600 MW by 2030.


Recently, Santa Clara International Corp. and Investco BHPI Inc. have sealed a deal for the development of the 8.4 MW Maladugao Hydroelectric Power Project in Bukidnon in Mindanao, where many good areas for harnessing hydropower are located. In addition, Chevron Corp. plans to develop further the geothermal power potential of the Central Luzon and Bicol-Mindanao-Central Cordillera volcanic belts. Marubeni Corp. meanwhile promises to help the country increase its RE production through investments in mini-hydro, solar, and wind projects. For its part, San Miguel Corp. has recently completed its 500 megawatt-hours of battery energy storage system, which will be distributed all over the country.

The above RE projects are large-scale and are planned to be connected to the national power grid which, however, still needs more interconnections. Actually, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Grid Planning and Competitive Renewable Energy Zones program has yet to be fully implemented. With regard to the national overall power transmission system, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines has yet to complete its power transmission lines linking the whole country to allow quick adjustments in power distribution.

Observers point out that even as the government focuses its attention on expensive big ticket projects such as liquefied natural gas facilities, it should have actively promoted building local microgrids that would link 2 or 3 MW solar, hydro, and biomass capacities that abound in the country. Particularly, it could have promoted the installation of affordable solar or photo-voltaic panels on the rooftop of houses and public buildings, these panels being the most “mature” renewable energy technology available in the market today.

There are still so many watersheds whose waters have yet to be tapped for power and water supply production. A lot of biomass energy potential from piggery and poultry farms just go to waste in sanitary landfills. And we have not even tried using former military officer Victor Corpus’ tidal turbine invention in our vast marine waters. It appears that the DOE has yet to live up to the “energy” mandate attached to its name.

Meliton B. Juanico

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TAGS: Letters to the Editor, renewable energy, Russia-Ukraine war

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