PHL urged to decentralize power generation with more solar plants

Solar panels are being installed on the roof of a mall. — GREEN HEAT HANDOUT PHOTO

THE Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) said the Philippines needs to move towards more “distributed” power generation, which would involve the construction of more solar generation facilities while abandoning the current model of centralized baseload power, currently dominated by coal-fired plants.

In an e-mail interview on Sept. 9, Pedro H. Maniego, senior policy advisor of ICSC, a climate and energy policy group, said that the dependence on coal renders the Philippines vulnerable to volatile international  energy prices, and put forward solar as an alternative.

“We lack sufficient power to support our developing economy and increasing population. We need to augment our power supply now,” Mr. Maniego added.

He called solar power the best technology for distributed generation in the context of the Philippines’ archipelagic geography, which results in many remote areas unserved by the grid.

“Given the country’s geography and minimal domestic fossil fuel sources, the country really has no option but to tap technological innovation to meet its twin goals of low carbon and reliable energy,” Mr. Maniego said.

Last week, Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said that the government will review the power outlook for next year because of the volatility of the gas market.

“Fossil fuel prices tend to go up over the long term, and to spike whenever there are international crises,” Mr. Maniego said.

Mr. Maniego added that the Philippines has sufficient RE potential to meet its energy needs, noting that “solar and wind have much lower levelized cost of electricity compared to fossil fuel power plants. Prices are expected to further decrease.”

Renato Redentor Constantino, ICSC’s executive director, said in a statement last week that government and banks should provide more financing for RE.

“The banks and Department of Finance should (abandon) the ‘pawnshop mentality’ and step up to provide more lending opportunities for RE investment,” Mr. Constantino said. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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