July 27, 2023
The creation of a reliable “highway” for renewable energy (RE) can fast track the government’s efforts to address the country’s power woes, according to experts.
In a recent forum, industry experts have also pointed to the need for a reliable highway that can accept variable RE and reliably deliver electricity to households and industries.
University of the Philippines College of Engineering Associate Dean Rowaldo Del Mundo said developing RE, such as solar takes only a year, while transmission lines takes 10 years to build.
“Our power system is not ready to accommodate more variable renewable energy [at the moment]. Since we would like to obtain more renewable energy, then we need to focus on developing our transmission system; not only the main grid but actually how to interconnect the many islands in the country,” Del Mundo said.
“Unfortunately, there is this big problem with the lead time. If you decide to put up transmission [lines] today, that means you will have it 10 years from now, whereas if you decide to put up a solar power plant, you can have it next year,” he explained.
He said the highway would be helpful since the Philippines looks to modify its power generation mix to reflect 50 percent renewables and 50 percent non-renewables by 2040.
Department of Energy (DOE) Chief Science Research Specialist Danilo Vivar said the DOE collaborated with the Department of the Interior and Local Government on a circular that serves as a guideline for local government units (LGUs) and their role in developing energy projects.
These efforts, Vivar said, includes Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS), which is “an online system that allows the coordinated submission and synchronous processing of all required data and information, and provides a single decision-making portal for actions on applications for permits or certifications necessary for, or related to, an application of a proponent for new power generation, transmission, or distribution projects.”
Philippine Independent Power Producers Association Inc. President (PIPPA) Anne Montelibano lamented that while there is recognition of the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) and the use of high technology, stable power remains a problem.
Montelibano said there are still brownouts that disrupt industries, particularly those that use AI and high technology. There is a lot of optimism in developing these industries because many Filipinos have the skills to support them.
“Having a good system and [making] use of all those technologies already assumes that you have [a] good base to make it work,” Montelibano said, noting how this would entail balancing intermittencies with a good baseload made up of power plants that can run 24/7.
She also cited the permitting process as a major concern in the power sector, especially as it can be a roadblock for investments in much-needed new generation capacities.
“We need to make it friendlier, faster, [timely], predictable, [and] reliable. Before the EVOSS, it took around 2,000+ signatures just to put up a project. After the EVOSS, we have greatly reduced the number of processing days and the number of signatures that need to be done [to 1,700]. We greatly thank the DOE for [EVOSS], but obviously, there is always room for improvement,” she said.
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) co-hosted the roundtable discussion entitled Powering up: The race to energy security, moderated by the Chamber’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Co-Chair, Ruth Yu-Owen.
The ECCP is a bilateral foreign chamber that promotes European interests in the Philippines and vice versa. With nearly 800 members, the ECCP offers a strong business network that holds great potential in translating to tangible business opportunities.