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‘Tweaking energy mix to grow RE share key to fighting climate risk ’

File photo of the 150-MW Burgos Wind Project in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, of the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corporation.

ONE way to address climate change and to fortify the Philippines against climate risks is to review and revise its energy mix, renewable-energy (RE) experts asserted in the 2019 State of Nature Assessment or “Green Sona.”

In the Philippines, coal continues to account for bulk of the country’s energy mix—more than half—and is largely seen as the baseload power of choice due to continued perceptions of cheaper costs.

“This is a wrong notion because the trade-off with coal is permanent and irreversible damage to our environment and to our overall health and well-being, as well as to the future of our natural resources,” said Miguel S. de Vera, head of strategic initiatives, legal and regulatory office of renewable-energy firm Energy Development Corp. (EDC).

The energy sector is the greatest contributor to climate change, with almost 61 percent of all carbon emissions worldwide coming from electricity production and industrial processes. “Even if we take into account other sectors that emit carbon and other greenhouse gases, as much as 93 percent of total emissions can already be addressed with the singular act of moving toward renewable-energy sources,” explained de Vera.

Of the various sources of energy being utilized across the globe today, coal-fired power plants are the single largest contributor to emissions. In 2018, it is estimated that coal emissions increased by around 280 megatons, comprising majority of the total 550-Mt increase from 2017 levels. Overall global carbon emissions reached a historic high of 33.1 gigatons (Gt) last year.

Energy storage technologies are also making naturally abundant sources, such as wind and solar more viable. Geothermal energy, meanwhile, remains to be the baseload power of choice for energy experts because of its reliable and stable nature, according to de Vera.

“Geothermal is a pioneering energy source that played a big role in saving our nation from economic and political turmoil in the 1970s. It is what will save us from the threats of climate change today and in the future,” he said.

The panel discussion reiterated the advantages of renewable energy in the wake of technological advancements and increasingly favorable economic factors. “First, renewable-energy sources, such as geothermal are indigenous to our country. We are not at the mercy of market forces unlike with fossil fuels, such as coal and oil,” said de Vera.

Green Sona was organized by nonprofit eco-coalition Green Convergence together with the Forest Foundation Philippines. This year’s conference was held in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, one of the largest and most important ecotourism and ecological sites in the country.

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