By DAVID DIZON
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday said it is set to launch a program to distribute about nine million compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to low-income Filipino families as part of a plan to phase out incandescent bulbs in the country by 2010.
ADB Senior Energy Specialist Sohail Hasnie said the ADB has already met with 60 electric cooperatives in the country for the distribution of the fluorescent bulbs to lifeline customers by the end of the year.
"Priority will be given to the lifeline customers. The people will not pay, they will get it for free," he told ABS-CBN.
"What will happen eventually is that it will be paid by the Clean Development Mechanism. Every light, you give away one million, it's equivalent to building a 50-megawatt power station and you save so much carbon dioxide emissions. Ultimately, the value of that avoided carbon dioxide will pay for the bulb itself."
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol that allows richer and industrialized countries to invest in clean power projects in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emissions reduction measures in their own nations.
The ADB is extending a $30 million loan to the Philippines to fund projects on energy efficiency, including the shift to CFLs and the efficient disposal of mercury tubes.
Hasnie said CFLs are more cost-efficient since they consume less energy than incandescent bulbs and lasts 10 times longer. He said that the Indonesian government saved $250 million in fuel costs annually after distributing 51 million fluorescent bulbs to consumers.
"If you have a 75-watt bulb, it will cost you about 75 centavos to run it every hour. When you switch to a CFL, it will be 15 watts, which means you have savings by 60 centavos. This is how you calculate your savings," he said.
He said the Philippine government is also eyeing the possible construction of a pilot facility that will handle the proper disposal of about six to 10 million mercury fluorescent lights in the country.
Hasnie said fluorescent tubes usually have about 15 to 20 milligrams of mercury, which could seep to the ground and contaminate water reservoirs if not disposed off properly. He said the facility would be the first of its kind in Asia if the project pushes through.
Hasnie said Filipinos should shift to a lower fuel consumption lifestyle as part of a national effort to lower energy demand.
In her opening remarks at the three-day Asia Clean Energy Forum, ADB Vice-President Ursula Schafer-Preuss said the region is estimated to need up to $6.4 trillion in new energy infrastructure by 2030 due to rising demand. She said ADB will invest one billion dollars annually in "clean energy" projects as part of an effort to encourage their use.
Hasnie said the viability of "clean energy" projects largely depends on locations and power charges. As an example, he said "the Philippines has high (power) tariffs so a lot of (renewable energy) projects would be viable here which would not be viable in Indonesia," which has low power tariffs.
He said the rise in fuel prices should also serve as a wake-up call to policy-makers globally that more efficient fuel consumption is called for. He also said the ADB is embarking on a project with the Department of Energy to revise the way the energy efficiency ratings of appliances are done to make it more understandable to ordinary Filipinos.
Ultimately, however, it is up to consumer to move from a lifestyle of waste to efficiency.
"In movie cinemas, you can set the temperature at 22 to 23 degrees instead of 17 degrees. Switch off the water heater or that extra light when you’re not using it. When you buy kitchen appliances, look for the ones that have good energy ratings – the ones that consume less electricity. Make school children aware of what to look for in good appliances."
"This is what we want to do in the project in the Philippines. Let’s try to be energy efficient," he said.