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Green energy takes off

Renewable energy, dubbed as the fuel for the future, has taken giant strides following the implementation of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.  The passage of the law ushered in the entry of more investors, creating a more vibrant Philippine energy sector.

 The Energy Department, in a bid to regulate the entry of renewable energy investors while ensuring the stability of the power grid, approved an installation target of 250 megawatts for hydro projects, 250 MW for biomass, 200 MW for wind, 50 MW for solar and 10 MW for ocean technology.

If a developer becomes eligible for the installation target, it can avail of the feed-in-tariff rates as follows: run of the river hydro (P5.90 per kilowatthour); biomass (P6.63 per kWh ); wind (P8.53 per kWh ); and solar (P9.68 per kWh).

Renewable energy developers are currently in the race to get the feed-in tariff under the approved installation targets of the government on a first come, first served basis.

The department awarded wind projects with a total capacity of 1,887.5 MW; solar projects with 1,595 MW; a 25-MW ocean power project; 3,861.12 MW of hydropower projects; and 172.18 MW of biomass projects as of end-December 2013.

However, only a few projects were granted certificate of commerciality, which would allow the developers to proceed with the project construction. 

Wind projects, based on records, exceeded the installation target approved by the department as there were already around 389.5 MW of wind projects with certificate of commerciality.

Two wind power projects in Ilocos Norte expect to be eligible for the feed-in tariff with the completion of their projects this year, including the 150-MW wind project of Lopez-controlled Energy Development Corp. and the 81-MW wind project of Northern Luzon UPC Asia Corp., led by Ayala Corp.

Records from the Energy Department showed that of the two companies, Northern Luzon UPC Asia expected to complete the Caparispisan wind project in Pagudpud by September 2014, to be followed by EDC’s wind project in Burgos by October.

Energy Department director Mario Marasigan said the expected completion of the two wind projects this year reflected the realization of the objectives of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 “to start aggressive development of clean, indigenous and environment-friendly generations from RE sources, entry of new technologies in our energy mix and enhancement of our energy security.”

The Caparispisan wind project is estimated to cost $255 million while the Burgos wind project is estimated to cost $300 million for the first phase with capacity of 87 MW. 

Solar projects also exceeded the installation target with 80 MW already granted with certificate of commerciality.  Among the solar projects granted commerciality are the 30-MW solar project in Rodriguez, Rizal of ATN Philippines Solar Energy Group Inc.

The department also granted a certificate of commercially to Philippine Solar Farm-Leyte Inc.’s 30-MW project in Ormoc, Leyte.

Philippine Solar Producers Association president Tetchie Capellan earlier said the government should look into why there were only few projects that advanced to commerciality stage.

“DOE should be more serious in developing RE if it wants to help mitigate climate change and promote energy security,” Capellan said.

“Five years after the law was passed, we note the efforts done by the Department of Energy.  However, much remains to be done,” she said.

The Renewable Energy Developers Caucus or REDC earlier said if the government had been earnestly pushing for the development of renewable energy, the presence of distributed renewable energy would have helped ensure power supply in the affected areas.

The Philippines was hit by a string of natural disasters last year such as the Bohol and Cebu earthquake and typhoon Yolanda, seen as a reflection of the worsening climate change.

“While we cannot discount super typhoon Yolanda’s strength is unprecedented at over 300 kilometers per hour, having distributed renewable energy would have helped ensure that some areas may still have power despite the recent calamities,” REDC convenor for hydro and Philippine Association of Small Scale Hydropower Inc. president Jose Silvestre Natividad said.

Natividad said renewable energy projects would not only support the economic development of the country but would serve as effective climate change mitigation measures.

Capellan also said with more renewable energy projects, the Philippines would no longer depend on imported fossil, which was subject to volatile international supply and pricing.

“The passage of the RE Law is not enough. Government must be more serious and proactive in pushing for the actual construction of the projects. They should assist the developers in eventually realizing these projects,” Capellan said.

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