MANILA, JUNE 13, 2011
 (AFP ONLINE) [Greenpeace volunteers stand after delivering solar panels to Malacanang Palace during a protest (AFP/File, Jay Directo)]

The Philippines said Tuesday it was aiming to generate half its energy from renewable sources by 2030, in a significant upgrade from current efforts.

Energy Secretary Rene Almendras released what he described as a "roadmap" to a more sustainable energy future, outlining plans to develop wind, biomass and ocean sources.

"The (roadmap) aims to increase the renewable energy-based capacity of the country three-fold by the year 2030," Almendras said in a speech to launch the updated targets.

He said that currently one third of the Philippines' installed generating capacity came from renewable sources, although just 26.3 percent of the total electricity produced nationwide came from these plants last year.

Energy Undersecretary Jay Layug told AFP that, under the new roadmap, renewable capacity would hit 15,000 megawatts by 2030, making up at least half of the country's energy mix.

"That is more or less the target," Layug told AFP in a telephone interview, referring to the 50 percent renewable figure.

Mark Dia, country representative of environment campaigners Greenpeace, told AFP the plan was a more ambitious update of the government's original target to double renewable capacity between 2010 and 2030.

However, he said the government had failed to fully demonstrate its commitment to cleaner energy.

Despite the updated renewable plan, most of the government's confirmed new power generation projects lined up were still based on greenhouse gas-producing coal, according to Dia.

"I think the language used today does not conform with the ambitions of the plan," Dia said.


MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino formally launched yesterday the government’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) aimed at addressing the spiraling cost and insufficiencies in the supply of electricity, especially in rural areas.

US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. (photo) expressed support for the program, citing the various investments by the US government and American companies in the development of renewable energy for clean, sustainable and reasonably priced power in the country.

The NREP contains a framework for action, existing and future measures, instruments and policies for the promotion of renewable energy as well as a roadmap that will guide efforts towards actualizing the market penetration targets of each renewable energy source in the country.

In his speech keynoting the event in Makati City, Aquino underscored the importance of renewable energy, saying it would do more than empower cities, machines and entire industries but would also fuel “our movement towards the rebuilding of this nation.”

“Renewable energy will fuel our future,” Aquino declared.

Through renewable energy, Aquino said the government would be able to supply the electricity needs of the people at a much lower cost without destroying the environment.

“The National Renewable Energy Program today points us in the right direction in terms of finding long-term and sustainable energy sources,” Aquino said.

He said yesterday’s launch of the NREP “is a symbolic first step in our journey towards fulfilling our vision of a Philippines unbound from the vagaries of the world oil market - a Philippines where we can choose not to sacrifice the environment, particularly the air we breathe, just to power our industries.”

With the NREP in place, Aquino said the government was hoping to achieve the “twin goals of harnessing our renewable energy potential while ensuring that our people’s energy needs are met.”

“With this in mind, the plan is to nearly triple our renewable energy-based capacity from around 5,400 megawatts in 2010 to 15,300 megawatts in 2030,” he said.

Aquino allayed fears that pursuing renewable energy development would only lead to higher electricity costs.

“The Department of Energy is confident that, along with the Energy Regulation Commission and the National Renewable Energy Board, the government will be able to keep a watchful eye on these prices to keep an optimum balance between the interests of our consumers and preserving the environment for future generations,” he said.

“What we want is simple: we want to do away with the perception that a cleaner future and affordable power prices are conflicting ideas,” Aquino said.

Aquino said the objective of the NREP is to allow the people to experience cleaner but affordable power prices.

“We want to pave the way for the maturity of our renewable energy sources such that we can provide predictable, affordable and fair electricity pricing for each and every Filipino,” he said.

Aquino appealed to the nationalist in every Filipino to support the government effort to ensure its success.

“This is a twenty-year program we are launching, so allow me to appeal to everyone here: be involved... What each and every one of you does count,” the President said.

Thomas, on the other hand, said the efforts taken by the Philippines in implementing the program were vitally important in the global scale.

“The US government will continue to support the Philippines in implementing the national renewable energy program. We will be with you on all fronts, from policy formulation to community development to promotion of clean energy investments,” Thomas said.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) provided technical assistance in the development of NREP.

Republic Act 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act mandates the full development and use of the country’s renewable energy resources. This is in line with the country’s goal of attaining energy self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras underscored the need for the country to have the NREP since the Renewable Energy Law had been passed as early as 2008.

“We are in a catch up mode regarding renewable energy. This NREP should have been crafted right after the passage of the law in 2008. Nevertheless, we hope that the NREP will further enhance the country’s renewable energy thrust,” Almendras said.

Thomas said he was pleased that the US and the Philippines shared the same goals in terms of clean energy development.

“Both of our nations want to find a way to meet the Philippines’ national energy needs while lessening the drastic effects of changing climate conditions,” Thomas said.

Through USAID’s Climate Change and Clean Program, Thomas said the US government would support public consultations, capacity building and technical analysis of the renewable energy projects of the Philippines.

“We will be your partner in bringing active participation and support of stakeholders from the public and private sectors. Through the Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy Program, we will continue to work with you on rural electrification. We will be with you in harnessing global energy in the countryside, to expand access to electricity in remote villages,” Thomas said.

In the past two years, Thomas said US government had also been working closely with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the private sector to increase investments into clean energy.

“Through the Private Financing Advisory Network Project, together we have financed six clean energy projects, the private investments amount to P5 billion,” Thomas said.

“These projects, once fully operational, are expected to mitigate 147,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. We hope to work with you in many more of these public-private partnerships,” he said.

Thomas said the US government would continue to coordinate and cooperate with other government agencies, financing institutions and key stakeholders working on climate change issues.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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