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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Monday, July 24, that the government is taking a more aggressive stance to increase renewable energy in the country, awarding more than a hundred renewable energy contracts in the past year.
“Renewable energy is the way forward,” Marcos said during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“Since last year, an additional 126 renewable energy contracts with potential capacity of 31,000 megawatts have been awarded,” he added.
Currently, renewable energy contributes 29% to the country’s energy mix with a capacity to produce 8,150 megawatts of electricity, according to a 2022 report released by the Department of Energy (DOE).
The government is gunning to increase installed capacity to at least 20,000 megawatts of electricity coming from renewables by 2040. The Philippines has less than two decades to catch up.
Marcos echoed the goals stated in the government’s National Renewable Energy Program. “We are aggressively promoting renewables, so that it provides a 35% share in the power mix by 2030, and then on to 50% by 2040.”
Power generation efforts were also amplified as Marcos cited his administration’s goal to reach total electrification. He reported that half a million homes got access to electricity since his assumption to office.
“We will spare no effort to achieve full household-electrification by the end of my term. 100% is within our reach,” Marcos said.
To attain the country’s renewable energy targets, Marcos said they have opened up these projects to foreign investments. Late last year, the Philippine government allowed 100% foreign ownership of renewable energy projects in the country.
On November 15, 2022, the DOE issued Circular No. 2022-11-0034 permitting the State to enter into contracts with foreign citizens, foreign-owned corporations to help lower costs of renewable energy projects and make “cleaner energy more accessible to the public.”
Previously, the law reserved the exploration, development, and utilization of renewable energy sources to companies that are at least 60% Filipino-owned. Prior to the DOE circular, foreign investors were only allowed to own up to 40% equity in these projects.
Here are the numbers of active renewable energy projects:
- Solar: 299
- Wind: 187
- Hydroelectric: 436
- Biomass: 58
- Geothermal: 36
- Ocean-powered: 9
While Marcos described the government’s efforts to transition to renewable energy, some groups said it was “unambitious.”
Environmental coalition Power for the People said energy transition is “a path that requires speed and scale to meet climate and energy security goals.”
“50% by 2040 is also too long to wait for consumers to have reasonably priced electricity, free from dependence on foreign fossil fuel sources,” said Gerry Arances, convenor of Power for People Coalition, on Monday. “50% by 2040 is too little, too late.”
The World Meteorological Organization has warned that the world may breach 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming even before 2030.
When this happens, the world would experience what it’s like when it permanently crosses the global temperature threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
More gas exploration
Marcos said the government is also pushing “for more gas exploration in other parts of the country.”
He noted the recent agreement signed with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, opening up the resource-rich region to natural gas exploration.
But this runs counter to the promise of accelerating renewable energy in the country, environmental group Greenpeace Philippines said in a statement on Monday.
Khevin Yu, Greenpeace’s energy transition campaigner, said there’s no way forward to clean energy transition “so long as the government pursues the expansion of new fossil gas projects in Mindanao, and remains silent on phasing out coal, while promoting legislation for nuclear energy that will further divert attention and resources from renewable energy.”