More Renewable Projects Seen After Fuel Price Surge

In the first quarter of 2022, consumers saw staggering fuel price increases due to constricting supply from imports. Besides calls for consumer relief, the transition to renewables is expected to accelerate. 

According to a BusinessWorld report, the switch to renewable energy (RE) will be hastened by the impact of fuel prices on power bills. Meralco Vice President Larry Fernandez said that the price hike would reflect the cost of Malampaya natural gas and, eventually, the electricity generation cost. 

Some of the largest businesses are now engaged in RE projects, including Ayala Corporation, Filinvest Land, and SM Prime, boosting the share of renewables in the Philippine energy mix.

Latest Projects for Clean Energy Adoption

Ayala-led AC Energy Corp. recently finished its 72-megawatt (MW) solar park in Arayat-Mexico, Pampanga. It’s the first phase of a bigger 116-MW solar project to be completed by year-end. 

The 72 MW solar farm has started exporting power to the grid in March and is expected to supply electricity to 45,000 households and avoid 72,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, as per a BusinessMirror report. 

The same energy firm started the construction of a 283-MW solar farm in San Marcelino, Zambales, poised to become the largest photovoltaic facility in the country. Once operational, it will provide 421-gigawatt hours’ worth of electricity every year, according to BusinessWorld.

Meanwhile, property giants are also seen helping with the swift transition to RE. Filinvest Land is eyeing the installation of renewable energy plants in its projects, the Filinvest Innovation Parks at New Clark City, Tarlac and Ciudad de Calamba in Laguna. SM Prime likewise continues its transition to RE, targeting to increase its renewable energy use by over 50% by the end of 2022. 

Last month, the country’s first renewable energy real estate investment trust (REIT) company, Citicore Energy REIT (CREIT) Corp., made a successful stock market debut.

GEOP Gives RE Investments a Boost 

In December 2021, the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines launched the Green Energy Option Program (GEOP). Under the Renewable Act of 2008, GEOP will be one of the various programs to promote renewable energy development in the country. 

Initially, 17 RE power supply contracts were registered under GEOP, and most of them came from manufacturing firms, as per a Manila Bulletin article. It was also reported that geothermal and solar installations are among the most preferred renewable energy sources.

Under the GEOP policy, end-users with a consumption base of at least 100 kilowatts are allowed to choose renewables that can meet their energy requirements. This gives them the advantage of directly contracting with RE suppliers to negotiate the volume and price. So far, 14 power suppliers have been accredited to offer RE capacity under the GEOP. 

The policy mechanism and increasing RE investments shall help the country meet new targets under the proposed National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) 2020-2040. One of its goals would be to boost the RE share in the power mix from 20% to 35% by 2030. 

PH Urged to Shut Down Coal Power Plants 

Environmental groups are also pushing for coal phase-out after the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. In a Philippine Star article, climate campaigners agreed that the livable future relies on swift RE transition. They said that the climate change solutions included in the report should encourage the government to utilize renewables to their full potential. 

Greenpeace Philippines called for the termination of fossil gas expansions and a 50% increase of RE share in the power mix. On the other hand, Oxfam Pilipinas said that renewables are cheaper in the long run, particularly for resource-rich countries like the Philippines.

The Department of Energy’s NREP remains one of the country’s road maps for RE transition, with plans to encourage private sector involvement in RE development. Besides this, the 2040 Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) is expected to go full swing as the economy recovers and the country aspires to fast-track RE adoption. The PEP largely aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12% by 2040 under a clean-energy scenario.

Sources: BusinessWorld, BusinessMirror, Manila Bulletin, Rappler, Philstar 

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