The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and the Philippine Energy Independence Council (PEIC) have been reinforcing calls to step up the country’s energy self-sufficiency, albeit with caution that technology deployments must lean on cleaner resources to align such goal with the decarbonization targets cast through the climate change diplomacy of the Paris agreement.

In a recent forum, Energy Policy and Planning Bureau Director Jesus T. Tamang of the Department of Energy (DOE) conveyed that the country’s stature of energy self-sufficiency hovers at 53-percent, hence, there is still a need to accelerate that in future energy infrastructure installations.

On the realm of renewable energy (RE) investments, the DOE official specified that “at the level of 34 percent share of RE in 2020, the Philippines remains to have the highest RE share in total primary energy supply among all ASEAN countries.”

Tamang, nevertheless, indicated that the Philippines should not just be satisfied with that scale of RE integration in its energy mix – and that is the main reason why forward growth of RE developments is being calibrated in the updated Philippine Energy Plan.

Underpinned by the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) as incentive mechanism for investments, the DoE is eyeing capital influx in the RE space that will add more than 44,000 megawatts of capacity until year 2040.

Eric Francia, president and CEO of AC Energy Corporation of the Ayala group, emphasized that “renewables definitely have a major role to play,” and that energy independence is “a critical imperative in this day and age,” especially for the Philippines that had seen cycles of boom-and-bust in its power sector.

However, challenges for massive scale renewables integration that include financing, strategic siting as well as technology complement to the on-and-off generation of some RE facilities, had been repeatedly touched on by the various resource speakers in the ECCP-PEIC forum.

Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella, in particular, noted that investors must examine innovations that they can explore for technology coupling to address intermittency of RE facilities.

In terms of siting, the energy official emphasized that the competitive renewable energy zones (CREZ) will make it “easier to connect to the grid, so that we can reach our goals,” while the Green Energy Option Program (GEOP) could serve as added market for RE capacities that may be patronized by climate justice ‘woke’ consumers.

Nazrin Camille Castro, branch manager of The Climate Reality Project Philippines, echoed Fuentebella’s view, with her noting that “the Philippines is now ready to modernize its power system. The need for a clean energy transition in the Philippines is more on the matter of modernizing its economy, delivering affordable power to the Filipino people; and driving energy self-sufficiency.”

On capital fluidity for RE investments, Joseph Incalcaterra, chief ASEAN economist of global bank HSBC, highlighted that “in terms of financing renewables in the Philippines, the cost is large, but with public-private partnership and the right regulations, it will be doable.”

When it comes to the country’s quest for climate justice, Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez sounded off that the key is “more collaboration with our international partners and the private sector to achieve our climate ambition.”

Dean Antonio La ViƱa, who also serves as secretary of the PEIC, averred that one weak point of the Philippines is that “we are not ambitious enough to ask for the money that is owed us for climate finance.”

He added if the country will jut aggressively pursue its access to the available global climate change financing mechanism “we can fund big energy projects, big forestry projects and big agricultural projects if we just think big enough.”

PEIC President Don Paulino further pointed out “there needs to be an active request and participation by other people in the country. We need to demand from our leaders – whether it’s the public, the government or the private sector, to think about climate change.” ###

Source: Manila Bulletin (