PH aims to be become leader in renewable energy

by Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Jul 27 2011 06:50 PM | Updated as of Jul 28 2011 03:43 PM

CEBU CITY, Philippines - Green investors should now start pouring investments into the Philippines, with the goal of jumpstarting the country's aim to become a leader in renewable energy, an industry expert said.

Some sectors are not too keen on the tariff benchmarks floated by the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB), noting it could translate to higher electricity rates for consumers. Some sectors, however, are saying there are benefits of putting in place the capacities now.

First Gen Corp. Vice President Al Santos, said for example, “what you get by installing now, you get the local capability. In solar, for instance, you need people to know how to install in roofs and you need people to set-up companies who will source and make the brackets, who will install them, you need to set up the net metering for the smaller systems.”

He also stressed that installing the renewable energy system takes years. “You can wait until it's very low, but from that time there is capacity building that's needed,” he added.

Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, in an earlier speech, noted there are hurdles in implementing new technologies.

“We also recognize that there are cost implications to these efforts, and we will seek to balance our transition to cleaner technologies in ways that will protect existing consumers and future generations alike,” he has said.

NREB, the body directed by law to draw up a renewable energy plan, earlier recommended a target of around 830 megawatts (MW) as the total allowed capacity of the renewable energy facilities in the next 3 years.

The targets include: 250-MW for biomass, 250-MW for hydro, 50-MW for solar and 200-MW for wind.

The Energy Regulatory Commission will conduct hearings starting August 3 for the feed-in tariff (FiT) rates vis-à-vis these capacities. A FiT rate is the cost for establishing the renewable energy technology.

The FiT rates will be blended together to come up with a so-called FiT allowance, which will then be passed on to consumers, as reflected in their bills. This FiT allowance is estimated to be much lower than the FiT rate.

PIPPA President Ernesto Pantangco said this charge is expected to benefit the consumers in the long run.

FiT allowance will be steady in the next years, while conventional fossil fuels are expected to continuously go up.