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Philippines fails to double renewable energy capacity

The Philippines continued to rely heavily on coal and “miserably failed” to meet its goal of doubling the installed capacity of renewable capacity, 10 years after the passage of the Renewable Energy Law, Senator Loren Legarda said Wednesday.

“The most intriguing aspect of RE Law implementation in our country is, arguably, the absence of a clear and strong political commitment to develop and stimulate a healthy market for renewable energy development,” Legarda said during a symposium on renewable energy.

Legarda said while the Renewable Law of 2008 aimed to reduce the volume of coal importation, the Philippines ended up importing more. 

“We cannot claim energy independence for as long as we rely on imported fuel. Unless we are willing to embrace the reality that RE is a global phenomenon that is beginning to replace coal and fossil fuels as a cheaper fuel source, our energy policies will continue to waver, reflecting the lack of political commitment that will consequently drive investors away.  All this will bear upon our power consumers,” she said.

Legarda said the volume of imported coal increased by an average of 12.8 percent annually from 1989 to 2015.  

Data also showed that installed capacities of coal power plants jumped 87 percent to 7,419 megawatts in 2016 from 3,967 MW in 2005. Another 10,423 MW of coal-fired power plants is in the pipeline.  

“This coal-dependent strategy creates stranded assets, and consequently, stranded costs that our consumers will ultimately have to bear,” Legarda said.

Legarda said that for 11 years, the installed capacity of RE increased only by an average of 157 MW per year, from 5,226 MW in 2005 to 6,958 MW in 2016, or an addition of only 1,732 MW. 

“This meant a paltry 3-percent increase every year for 11 years. These figures present one glaring fact. We miserably failed in meeting our goal of doubling the installed capacity of RE,” Legarda said.

She said while many initially thought that the adoption of the RE Law represented a firm and decisive policy position on the country’s shift to cleaner and indigenous forms of energy, stakeholders continued to grapple with mixed signals from those in charge with implementing the RE Law.

“As any reasonable person would expect, the passage of the RE Law was supposed to be the pathway to higher levels of energy self-sufficiency; but performance indicators, to date, betray the mixed policy positions of the government on this matter,” Legarda said.

Topics: Renewable Energy Law , Senator Loren Legarda , Renewable Law of 2008 , coal-fired power plants
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