PH can’t rely solely on renewable energy to meet domestic demand | Inquirer Opinion
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PH can’t rely solely on renewable energy to meet domestic demand

/ 12:14 AM September 09, 2016

Like the world’s largest and developed economies, the Philippines relies on different sources for its power supply. Coal, natural gas, geothermal energy, hydro and oil are used by power plants to produce electricity. Sunlight and wind are now also used for the electrification of the countryside. This mix of energy sources provides the country with a stable power supply that keeps the economy running and Filipino homes lighted.

However, some of these sources of power are not environment-friendly and even pose many hazards to the public. When burned, they emit harmful greenhouse gases which are now blamed for global warming or climate change. On the other hand, both the extraction and use of coal destroy mountains, forests and rivers—thus affecting the health and livelihood of rural folk living close to coal-mining sites.

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That is why Environment Secretary Gina Lopez wants to stop destructive coal mining in the country. But it doesn’t mean that Lopez will never allow the use of coal to produce electricity.

Coal plays a vital role in the country’s power generation industry. Some 45 percent of our electricity supply in 2015 was sourced from coal-fired power plants; only a quarter came from geothermal, hydro and renewable energy. This is according to data from the Department of Energy.

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With the low electricity reserves threatening to again plunge parts of Luzon into hours of darkness, it is not advisable to do away with any of the energy sources already available to us. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is well aware that the country cannot rely solely on renewable energy to meet the growing domestic demand for electricity. He, therefore, calls for a “healthy balance” in the mix of energy sources to address both high demand and reserve requirement.

So it was a good move on Cusi’s part to get technical assistance from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in determining the optimal energy mix. The thrust of USAID’s “Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability (B-LEADERS)” project with the DOE is to plan, design and implement low-emission development strategies in the power sector to attract more investments in clean energy. Cusi’s pragmatic approach would complement a pro-Filipino mining policy, especially since it is in line with Secretary Lopez’s advocacy of renewable energy.

—FRANCIS DIAZ, [email protected]

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TAGS: coal, energy sources, renewable energy
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