Taking Action

All over the world, calls are being made to shift from traditional forms of energy to more sustainable ones in the hope of saving our environment and making energy available for all. In response, various sectors have taken drastic actions and are making great progress in their shift to renewable energy.

The achievements of the private and public sector in transitioning to greener forms of power in recent years are significant. The numbers for 2017 alone are a testament to both sectors commitment to add and use more renewable energy.

Last year was a record-breaking year as renewable power generation capacity had its biggest annual increase of nine percent with an estimated 178 GW added capacity, according to REN21’s study, Renewables 2018 Global Status Report.

More renewable power was added than fossil fuels as renewables accounted for 70 percent of the overall combined global generating capacity. Investments in RE for 2017 reached $279 billion, up from the recorded $274 billion in 2016 as well.

The figures from corporate buying of renewable energy are admirable, too.

For one, the International Renewable Energy Agency report, Corporate Sourcing of Renewable Energy: Market and Industry Trends showed that firms across 75 countries sourced a total of 463 terawatt-hours from renewables in 2017. This volume is enough to power up a country equivalent to the total demand of France.

The report found out that half of the 2,400 large companies analyzed for the study are voluntarily and actively buying or investing in self-generation of renewable energy for their operations. Plus, 200 of these firms source at least 50 percent of their power needs from renewables. “Renewable energy sourcing has become a mainstream pillar of business strategy in recent years,” IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin stressed.

Environmental and sustainability concerns, social responsibility, reputation management, and economic and financial objectives are the top reasons cited by corporations on why they are making the shift to renewable power. “While environmental concerns initiated this growing trend, the strengthening business case and price stability offered by renewables can deliver a competitive advantage to corporations, and support sustainable growth,” Amin added.

There’s definitely an increased appetite for renewable energy as other countries are also gearing up to accommodate more renewables such as in the case of Vietnam.

Recently, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc reiterated his country ’s commitment to shift to renewable power in an interview with Reuters.

He announced that Vietnam is set to increase electricity generated from renewable sources to 101 kWh billion by 2020 and to 186 kWh billion by 2030 from 58 billion kWh recorded in 2015. The country also aims to reduce the use of coal and petroleum products by 40 million tons by 2030.

Phuc said that the government has already prepared incentive mechanisms as well as policies to promote local and foreign investments into renewable energy development.

The chief executive stressed that this shift is needed despite the country’s push for more economic growth,“It is important that we will not pursue economic growth at the expense of the environment,” Phuc noted.

turkey

Soma Kolin power plant in Turkey’s western province of Manisa. Survey says more Turkish favor greener forms of energy despite the country’s dependence on coal
Photo c/o: http://www.aa.com.tr

There also seems to be greater awareness and appreciation for renewables among citizens in other countries. Turkish, for example, favor greener forms of energy than coal despite Turkey’s dependence on this form of power. The country sources more than 70 percent of power need from fossil fuels since the government named coal as its preferred fuel for the growing energy demand.

A survey conducted by climate information hub İklim Haber and research company Konda revealed that more than half of its citizen oppose the building of additional coal-fired plants as 75 percent of the participants are worried about climate change.

In the Philippines, our government claims to have the appetite for more renewables in our power mix. But that hunger is not correctly matched by government’s actions. It is highly likely that we will remain starved for cleaner forms of energy for now as we have moved down our renewable energy targets.

The Energy Department had announced the target of sourcing 35 percent of our overall power needs from RE by 2030. This goal, however, has been recently pushed back to 2040. This is not surprising as data from BMI report showed that there would be a 10 percent increase of coal in our energy mix in the next decade from below 50 percent in 2017 to more than 55 percent by 2027.

That is unfortunate since now is an excellent time for the Philippines to add more renewables and to take advantage of the falling costs of renewable power prices. Plus, of course, we need stable energy at reasonable prices as we try to industrialize. But then, again, we will remain hungry for cheaper and sustainable forms of power for now.

References:

Renewables 2018, Global Status Report, http://www.ren21.net/gsr-2018/
http://www.vir.com.vn/vietnam-well-positioned-to-develop-renewable-energy-says-pm-59892.html

http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/06/05/83-turks-favour-renewable-energy-coal-survey-finds/

http://www.irena.org/newsroom/pressreleases/2018/May/Corporate-Sourcing-of-Renewables-Growing-Taking-Place-in-75-Countries

A Timely Reminder

Three years ago, Pope Francis made a strong appeal to the world to address the growing problem of climate change. In his 180-page encyclical, the pope stressed that “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

Pope Francis recently made the same appeal with investors, oil executives and Vatican experts during an unprecedented conference at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The pontiff had stressed that climate change must be addressed soon and the world has to use a power mix that will combat pollution, promote social justice, and combat pollution. “But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels. Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty,” the pope said.

He reminded his audience that development must not come at the expense of the environment “Civilisation requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilisation.”

The head of the Catholic Church has never wavered in his appeal to the world to make the planet a better place by saving the environment. His recent plea is also timely as studies and reports show that the world has to do more in fighting the effects of climate change.

The recent United Nation (UN), a yearly report entitled ‘The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018” concluded that climate change along with inequality and conflict are the primary factors in growing hunger and displacement around the world.

The figures in the report showed that the world has a long way to go in combating the effects of climate change including the health hazards. After all, the World Health Organization once tagged climate change as “the defining issue for the 21st century.”

The UN study revealed that in 2016, around the world, 91 percent of the urban population were breathing dirty air or air that failed to meet the WHO Air Quality Guidelines. What’s worse is that more than half of the said population were exposed to air pollution levels that are at least 2.5 times higher than the safety standard. It is not surprising then that around 4.2 million people died due to high levels of ambient air pollution.

The same report showed that renewable power’s share in the final energy consumption had a moderate increase from 17.3 percent in 2014 to only 17.5 percent in 2015.

That’s a sad figure, especially when the more significant use of renewable energy can save lives. Let us remember that both coal and oil power have greater death prints, or what energy expert James Conca defines as the “number of people killed by one kind of energy or another per kilowatt hour (kWh) produced.”

In fact, the mortality rate of coal, which is derived by dividing the trillion kilowatt hour of use, is 100,000 when we get 50 percent or our energy needs from this source. Likewise, oil has a mortality rate of 36,000 for every eight percent of the energy it supplies.

Apparently, the growth of renewables in the world’s energy mix had been slow and more people are literally dying because of it. Clearly, more must be done to combat climate change, which includes developing and using more cleaner forms of energy.

Let us heed the Pope’s call, shall we?

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/09/pope-francis-tells-oil-bosses-world-must-wean-itself-off-fossil-fuels

http://sdg.iisd.org/news/sdg-report-2018-finds-conflict-climate-change-inequality-hindering-progress/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/#16e2ea1b709b

 

 

 

 

Missing Out on Benefits

 

renewable-energy-jobs-in-world

10.3 million people were employed in renewable sector says IRENA. Photo c/o https://constructionplacements.com

Renewable energy as experts has been saying bring many benefits. All over the world, big global brands and governments are making the shift to sustainable sources of power because they to help the environment as well as save on power costs.

 

However, more affordable energy prices and a cleaner environment are not the only benefits of choosing renewable energy. Fortunately, opting to build RE plants has a direct on the economy through job generation.

The International Renewable Energy Agency or IRENA report, Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2018 showed that in 2017 alone, the renewable energy industry generated more than half a million jobs around the world. This number brings the total number of people employed by the sector to 10.3 million as some 500,000 more jobs were created last year by the industry.

The same report noted that United States, China, Brazil, Germany, Japan and India combined accounted for the 70 percent of the jobs. Asia on the other hand accounted for 60 percent of all the renewable jobs having employed three million workers for solar PV energy alone.

These numbers can silence many naysayers who claim that a shift to greener forms of energy could cost many workers their jobs. In fact, the change to cleaner forms of energy is set to create more employment in the next coming decades as noted by Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA. “Fundamentally, this data supports our analysis that decarbonisation of the global energy system can grow the global economy and create up to 28 million jobs in the sector by 2050,” Amin stressed.

Locally, the RE sector can create plenty of jobs for the Filipinos, too.

The  Greenpeace report “Green is Gold: How renewable energy can save us money and generate jobs, in 2013, noted that the Philippines, being a tropical country can generate as much as   4.5 to 5.5 kWh/m2/day. Data collected by the research showed that a 10 MW solar power plant usually employs 1000 people during the construction phase that lasts for six months and additional 100 full-time employees.
And this is just for solar power.

Overall, Greenpeace’s report found that the RE sector in the country can provide as much as 6.3 million jobs by 2030. Plus, renewable power in the Philippines can create some 62,625 jobs for every 7.828 RE projects for development

Unfortunately, unless we can fix the problems in the sector, then we cannot expect to reap the full benefits of RE including providing more employment for the Filipino workers.

Inconsistent and unfavorable policies to developers hinder the sector from reaping the economic benefits of harnessing more power from natural sources. The IRENA report stressed this point when it noted: “Employment trends and patterns are shaped by a wide range of technical, economic and policy-driven factors. Where policies become less favorable to renewable energy, change abruptly or invite uncertainty, the result can be job losses or lack of new job creation.”

The developments in the last few months have been a testament to the uncertainty in the energy sector. Just last December, the Commission on Audit suspended the four commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission or ERC.  A bill in Congress is seeking to abolish the commission was filed in the lower house after. By February, the Court of Appeals’ granted a temporary restraining order stopping the suspension. The conclusion of this saga remains to be seen.

Plus, we are also dealing with the cha-cha of our government or back and forth of our government in increasing the shares of renewables in our power mix. The Energy Department had a goal of sourcing 35 percent of our overall power needs from RE by 2030 and later pushed the deadline further to 2040.

In fact, in the next decade, the share of coal is set to increase by 10 percent as noted by Fitch-owned, BMI “The share of coal [is]actually increasing over our 10-year forecast period—from just under 50 percent in 2017 to over 55 percent by 2027,” BMI noted. What’s worse is that the contribution of renewables in our energy mix will likely decrease to 16 percent in 2027 from 20 percent in 2020 according to the study.

These numbers do not reflect our goal to source more power from renewable energy. So, we are unlikely to generate more jobs from the RE sector if this projection materializes.

Aside from missing out on having lower energy costs and helping our environment, the Philippines is likely to miss out on the opportunity of providing additional jobs from the development of more renewable energy plants.

If we can only get our act together, then we can surely reap the benefit of having more jobs from harnessing more power from renewables especially since the Philippines is blessed with overflowing natural resources. Doing so will reduce the burden on Filipino households and provide individuals with more jobs and higher disposable income which Filipinos need and deserve.

References:

Greenpeace report “Green is Gold: How renewable energy can save us money and generate jobs

IRENA report, Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2018

http://www.manilatimes.net/coal-top-55-ph-power-mix-2027/377594/

CAREER EXPO 2018

College of Economics and Management Career Expo Fair 2018
University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)
June 1, 2018

This morning I woke up to the realization that 2 months ago I turned a new leaf in my life: I became a senior citizen. And nothing would have been more profound as a reminder than the fact that you see me in a T Shirt and jeans instead of the suit I was planning to wear to this morning’s affair.

You see, as I was dressing up to come here, I absentmindedly locked the dressing room of my bedroom. At that very moment my wife, who keeps the key, was 30,000 feet in the air on her way to Davao. So rather than come here naked, I decided to wear what was available outside the dressing room.

This is what I wear everyday: T-shirt with jeans, loafers, and no socks. Throughout most of my professional life I wore nothing but suits and barongs. So when I retired in 1998 from being a professional employee to become an entrepreneur, I decide to just live a simple life with simple clothes.

However, I advise you not to follow my example in your first job interview.

My advise: wear comfortable, inexpensive but decent clothes, and most importantly, wear your passion in your face and in your voice.

Passion? Yes, passion.

Passion is what drives you everyday. Passion is why you do what you do everyday.

Maybe it is serendipity that I locked myself out this morning and I was forced to wear this shirt: the UP Vanguard shirt. When I was a student here in UPLB, I pursued advanced ROTC. So for four years while I was pursuing my Agribusiness degree I was also undergoing military training. This training built me into what I am today and I have since embraced the shibboleth of the UP Vanguard: Duty well performed, Honor untarnished and Country above self.

Country above self: this has been my passion, this has been why I go to work everyday.

Before you embark a career whether it is finance, marketing, or whatever, you should know your “why” – what makes you want to wake up every morning and do something useful with your life. Professionally, this is the only way to become happy with your career, with your professional life.

I started as an financial analyst in Davao City for a financing company. Davao at that time was a war zone but that was probably the reason why I was attracted to that city. As a financial analyst I had to do financial projections on yellow columnar sheets using pencils and calculators. No excel spreadsheets – if after working for 5 hours you find that your balance sheet is not balanced, you would have to redo your entire worksheet, by hand. Today you have Excel spreadsheets with all sorts of sophisticated formula in cells; I am sure you find the “Goal seek” function very useful.

My advise: do not jump into your spreadsheets blindly. Learn first the fundamentals – the link between the P&L, the cash flow, and balance sheet. Learn to differentiate between accounting and finance issues.

As I told you, Davao was then a war zone. And all managers from Manila assigned to Davao inevitably resigned because of the peace and order problem. A grenade exploded right in front of our office that blasted the glass walls of our office. We saw people shot in front of us and in many occasions we were pursued by armed men in the countryside.

So there came a time when our Head Office asked me to be the ACTING TEMPORARY OIC. At 21, when my colleagues were struggling as clerks, I accepted the challenge. I became the head of the branch of one of the biggest financing company in the country. Eventually I ran the Mindanao operations, supporting small and medium enterprises, helping them with credit so that they too can help bring goods and service to the people of Mindanao.

I must have done well because when came back after pursuing my masteral degree abroad, the company made me the head of a development bank in Mindanao. I was 26 then. It is one thing to do credit analysis and then market your loans. What is more challenging is to market for deposits and then matching these with loans that you give out. You need to match the risk profile and cost of your deposits with the risk profile and .revenue from your loans.

Many of you will not have the privilege with being given this challenge. Many of you will work for a bank and will be in one of the departments of that bank. While I urge you to work your way all the way to the top, learn the fundamentals of finance: cost and risks.

My deep understanding of this fundamental relationship between cost and risk helped me immensely when at 36, I was asked by President Ramos to run the largest power company of the country: the National Power Corporation that had the biggest problem of the country as well. The country was experiencing 12 hour brownouts, we were short by roughly 4,000 MW that required over US$5B, the company had no cash and in fact was losing money, the government had no money having just come from a series of coup de etats, and protests were in the streets.

Question: how does an Agribusiness graduate of UPLB become part of the solution to an enormous power engineering problem?

Answer: know your calculus, finance, and accounting well enough to know how to understand the relationship between costs and risks. And be a true iskolar ng bayan by being honest in your work. Your honor untarnished.

Let me ask you: what is more expensive: a power source that costs P5.00/kwh and stays at that level in nominal terms for 25 years, or one that costs P4.50/kwh but is indexed to the price of coal and the forex for the next 25 years. How would you evaluate that?

The answer lies in what you have learned in the four years that you have been here. If you cannot figure that now, either you were absent when that subject was being taught or, you are just a late bloomer.

At this point, I want you to stand up. Look at the people to your right, left, and behind or in front of you. Shake their hands, embrace them, but no kissing. Take your seats.

Remember the names of your friends and classmates, and remember them well. Keep in touch. Be active in the alumni. As you go up through your career you will learn that it is not what you know but who you know that eventually will matter. Some people will tell you that this is a harsh reality: “hindi ako na promote kasi hindi ako sipsip.”

But that is reality.

That is marketing: dapat sumpsip ka sa customers mo.

However there is a caveat: a sincere sipsip cannot be shown unless you have the passion to serve your customers, your market. You cannot serve your market and you cannot be good in marketing unless you know why you are doing what you are doing. And only then can you be good in selling whatever it is you are selling as a person or as a company.

This is my take away: if you want to pursue a career in finance make sure you understand the fundaments of risk and cost. A career in marketing will require you to be passionate about what it is you you so that you can relay that passion to your market in whatever form it may be.

The main message is this: be passionate about what you believe in and let that passion drive you. That way you get to meet people and influence their lives positively with whatever it is that you are passionate about. Conquer the world with you passion!

DUTY HONOR COUNTRY: this is my passion

What is yours?

Good morning and good luck to you all.

 

 

 

 

 

Shared Business View

Addressing climate change is the responsibility of all. Luckily, big global brands are doing their share and choosing to make the shift to cleaner forms of energy.

 For example, last April, tech giants Apple and Google announced that their operations are already running on 100 percent renewable energy. Fortunately, other firms are also stepping up and working double time to source their power needs from greener sources of energy.

 In fact, there are more than 100 influential global companies who have publicly committed to 100% renewable energy through the RE100 initiative. This collaboration of the world’s biggest brands, mostly tech companies was launched in 2014 and have ever since been working on achieving their goals of powering up their operations with renewables.

Last year, other influential non-tech companies have also joined the drive to use greater RE  such as General Motors, Kimberly Clark, General Mills, Starbucks and Target. In total, some 2.78 gigawatts worth of renewables were bought by the RE100’s members in 2017.

These large global brands remain relentless in their pursuit of achieving their targets. This year, members of RE100 are set to break their record by purchasing 1.96GW of renewables. If sustained, corporate RE buying could surpass the peak of 3.12GW recorded in 2015 as reported by the Business Renewable Center.

 One of RE100’s members, Microsoft also made the headlines this April by announcing the largest solar power deal in the US corporate history after buying some 315 megawatts from sPower. The purchase will power the tech firm’s datacenter and cloud business operation in Virginia. To date, Microsoft has already invested a total of 1.2 GW of RE, an amount that can light up roughly 100 million bubs

The declining costs of renewables and companies’ desire for a sustainable energy solution are what drive big business to commit and purchase cleaner forms of energy according to  Kevin Haley, marketing manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewable Center. “The corporate renewables market is now seeing deals from all industry sectors…… they believe they need to be part of the sustainability solution.”

Addressing climate change is just one of the reasons why large global brands are signing up for more RE purchases. There’s another reason: cost-effectiveness.

These brands’ leadership recognize that sustainable sources of energy will save them money in the long run.  Business leaders understand that choosing to invest in RE will save them money as it eliminates the risk of price volatility of fossil fuels.

 For example,  Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, Technical Infrastructure of Google stressed that  “Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy.”

Autodesk’s President and CEO, Lynelle Cameron echoes the view of Hölzle when she said: “By powering our business with 100% renewable electricity we will not only reduce our carbon footprint but give ourselves a competitive advantage as we protect ourselves against future rises in energy costs.”

For years, I have been trying to convince a great number of people that RE is not necessarily the more expensive energy option. It is refreshing to know that big businesses around the world share my views.

Sadly, many in the Philippines fail to recognize the benefits of renewable energy and still subscribe to the notion of the least cost option, which only considers the upfront costs. We are still caught in the belief of many energy planners and even our regulators that RE will cost us more, and refuse to realize that price spikes and depletion of fossil fuels will set us back.

Lowering energy costs while saving the environment are the two benefits of choosing greener power. Global companies and governments around the world are already seeing the potential of renewable energy and making big bets on cleaner forms of power as RE technology prices drop fast. What else can we do to convince many Filipinos that RE is the key to sustainable and cheap energy?

References:

 https://www.cnet.com/news/renewable-energy-solar-wind-lures-us-big-businesses/

 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/04/microsoft-just-signed-the-largest-corporate-solar-agreement-in-us-history/

 ACCELERATING CHANGE: how corporate users are transforming the renewable energy market. RE 100 Annual Report 2017

 

 

100% Clean and Profit Maximizing

 

apple headquarters

Apple’s headquarter running on renewables. Photo c/o Forbes.com

 

Tech giants Apple and Google are now 100% powered by renewable energy.

Google hit the goal early this April after confirming that the firm’s RE purchases exceeded the amount of energy the company used for operations worldwide in 2017. “For every kilowatt-hour of electricity we consumed, we purchased a kilowatt-hour of renewable energy from a wind or solar farm that was built specifically for Google,” Google Senior Vice President Urs Hölzle proudly announced.

Google is the largest corporate buyer of RE worldwide. Its vow of going 100% renewables started as early as 2010. By 2015, the tech firm was able to source 44 percent of its power needs from renewables.

Apple is not far behind. Less than two weeks after Google’s announcement, the iPhone maker proudly told the world that its global facilities spread across 43 countries are now running on 100% renewable energy. Apple has been rapidly increasing its use of RE in the last few years as it started sourcing 16% from green energy in 2010 until reaching 96% in 2016. Its data centers have been running 100% on RE since 2014.

“We want to put new, clean power on the grid so that we’re not sucking up all the clean energy that’s there,” said Apple VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives Lisa Jackson said in an interview.

Google and Apple are not the only large global companies opting to go for clean energy. Some 130 big brands like General Motors, Wal-Mart, Nike, and Ikea, just to name a few have vowed to use 100% renewable energy under the RE100 initiative.

These big brands’ choice of sourcing their power needs from RE is not surprising. After all, as our teachers in economics taught us, all firms are profit maximizing. It does indeed make business sense to choose renewable energy.

Perhaps, our regulators and even some of the local industry players should take notice of how and why big global firms are betting on renewable energy. As I have been saying for some time now, fossil-fuel powered plants are not exactly the least cost.

These global firms choose to go renewables as part of their commitment to save the planet and also to save money. These companies are reducing their financial risk of having to pay more for their power bills in the future by reducing if not eliminating their dependence on traditional sources of power. This is the same observation of Bloomberg New Energy Finance Analyst, Kyle Harrison when he said: “It gives them stability into what they’re paying for their energy prices, but it also gives them the potential to save money in the longer term.”

Many of the global brands’ management understand the risk of relying heavily on traditional sources of power knowing that commodity prices are unpredictable. These big brands do not want to be vulnerable to commodity price surges, so they diversify their energy mix to hedge against potential increases in world prices. They know that the least cost is not about looking at the upfront costs alone, but rather, also computing the price they will need to pay in the future for the costly consequences of factors beyond their control such depletion of fossil fuels, price spikes, and foreign exchange fluctuation, to name a few.

Plus, of course, the falling cost of RE technology makes going 100% renewable more cost-effective. The price of solar photovoltaic systems alone have dropped by 73 percent since 2010 and will fall further by 2020 according to IRENA.

Surely, these global firms will be grateful to have made the shift to RE when they see their financials in the future. Going renewable makes business sense. And the Philippines could do well by following the footsteps of these global companies instead of sticking with traditional forms of energy.

References:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2017/01/26/clean-energy-is-at-the-core-of-american-strategic-interests/#1dc0d6225765

Hampering Our Growth

Southeast Asian countries are at different stages of economic development and will have higher demand for energy. In fact, according to the Global Energy & CO2 Status Report published by the International Energy Agency or IEA, Southeast Asia (SEA) accounted for eight percent of global energy growth last 2017.

An earlier report released by the same agency, the Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2017  revealed that the region’s energy demand is likely to grow by roughly two thirds and account for a tenth of the world demand by 2040. Installed capacity is set to increase from 240 GW in 2017 to 565 GW by 2040 with coal accounting for  40 percent of the growth. This will push Southeast Asia to become a major importer of fossil fuels by 2040. The IEA predicts that the region’s annual net import bill will be over $300 billion, which is equivalent to four percent of the SEA’s total gross domestic product.

The IEA, however stressed that the region can still avoid incurring such a huge net import amount if governments implement policies that will reduce the demand for energy and increasing the use of renewables. Based on IEA’s estimates, Southeast Asia can lower the import bill by $180 billion if  the region increases Renewable Energy’s share in the mix by 20 percent.

The agency stressed that the increasing energy demand both pose as a challenge and an opportunity as governments can opt to go for affordable policy and technology options. ” The rapidly declining cost of wind and solar PV provides an opportunity to help meet growing electricity demand in a cost-effective and sustainable manner  while also helping spur local manufacturing industries.”

IEA also noted that attracting investments in RE will be crucial to meet the region’s energy requirements as Southeast Asia will need some $2.7 trillion to $2.9 trillion in investments by 2040.

For his part, International Renewable Energy Agency or IRENA director-general Adnan Z Amin noted that Southeast Asian countries should do a better job in attracting higher investments for RE development.

He stressed that despite the falling costs of RE technologies around the world, financing for RE in SEA countries remain a challenge given the lack of clear policy and regulatory frameworks for investors. He urges SEA countries’ leaders and regulators to come up with clear and reliable long-term policies to attract financing for the sector: “Basically what we’re lacking right now is a sense of government resolve and a sense of adequate, reliable policy framework that allows the private sector to come in…The market opportunity has to be created by policy and regulations.”

 

eco business

Southeast Asia can save $180 billion if more renewables are used by 2040. Photo c/o www.eco-business.com

 

Unfortunately, the observation of the IRENA president reflects the state of our policies and regulatory environment of the energy sector in the Philippines. The regulations here in the country are far from friendly to RE developers and do scare potential investors.

For one, the foreign ownership restriction in our constitution prevents investors from coming in to help us build more RE plants. As I have suggested in the past, it is time for us to consider allowing foreign investors to provide the equipment and technologies needed convert our resources into power while limiting their ownership on the natural resources. After all,  building RE power plants is an expensive undertaking and there are very few local businessmen who can afford to develop RE.

Aside from our problem in the foreign ownership, our regulators and even some of the players in the sector fail to realize the importance of renewables on the economy.  As I have been discussing thoroughly in this blog, we need to realize that the concept of least cost– where we only look at the upfront cost of building our power plants– hinders RE from becoming mainstream in the country.

We seem to forget that the risks of foreign exchange fluctuations, global fossil fuel prices and other market conditions will cost us more in the future. Our country cannot fully realize the benefits of RE unless we appreciate  the crucial role it plays in ensuring both energy security and equity. This is unfortunate for us as our country has been blessed with natural resources we can tap to help us achieve equitable economic growth.

Plus, the world is heading towards distributed generation and smart grids with the advancement of technology and yet the Philippines still rely on central generation. Unfortunately, we still lack rules on distributed generation and remain focused on distribution monopoly controlling the development of embedded generation. This hampers the development of RE.

Our government should pave the way for a more flexible design of a distribution system that can immediately supply the power demands and at the same time deliver the preferred sources of power to the customers.  Our distribution companies should have intelligent systems capable of accommodating renewable energy sources. We need to take a good look at our distribution system and make some drastic changes if we are serious in our desire to bring more renewables in our energy mix.

These are just are some of the problematic  issues that the sector needs to address and there are more.  Around the world, developments are taking place to accommodate greater use RE, and unless our country and regulators are able to address the myriad of problems hounding the energy and hampering more investments in renewable development, then the Philippines will surely be left behind by the rest of the world.

References:

Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2017: https://www.iea.org/southeastasia/

Global Energy & CO2 Status Report
The latest trends in energy and emissions in 2017:https://www.iea.org/geco/

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/asean-business/clear-reliable-policy-direction-in-asean-needed-to-attract-renewables-investment