DOE pushes shift to renewables during Duterte’s term

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte Sona 2021 / Photo Courtesy of PCOO

Photo Courtesy of PCOOPres. Rodrigo Duterte Sona 2021 / Photo Courtesy of PCOO

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the agency has been pursuing policies for the country to transition to renewable energy as a source of power during the Duterte administration.

During the pre-SONA (State of the Nation Address) forum on Climate Change Adaptation Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction Cluster Thursday, Cusi said the country adheres to its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change by reducing carbon emission through pursuing renewable energy projects.

The DOE awarded 407 contracts related to renewable energy projects from 2016 to 2020.

These renewable energy contracts have a potential capacity of 23,408 megawatts. 

So far, 29 percent of the potential capacity was already installed, adding 7,399 MW of clean energy to the grid.

These contracts also share 33 percent of the country’s energy supply.

“The government is really pushing for renewable energy as a source of power for the country. We need to improve our energy security. To do that, we have to tap the indigenous sources and renewable sources,” Cusi said.

He said the DOE last year declared a moratorium on new coal power projects to further help in climate change mitigation.

“The position of DOE is on climate justice,” the DOE chief added. “The Philippines is a victim (of climate change) rather than (an) initiator. But we are doing our share in reducing our carbon emission by increasing our renewable sources of energy.”

New energy sources

The Duterte administration has also issued policies and pushed for partnerships with other countries to achieve energy security.

Earlier, the DOE said President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to lift the moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea will help in finding new sources of clean energy for the country.

In a statement last week, Cusi said the continuation of oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea is one of the country’s gains from The Hague ruling in 2016.

“These activities are concrete and explicit forms of the enforcement of sovereign rights consistent with our real gains in the South China Sea Arbitral Award,” he said.

Moreover, the DOE also partnered with Australian and Japanese companies to pursue hydrogen as a future energy source.

Last January, DOE partnered with Star Scientific Ltd., a research and development firm from Australia, to study hydrogen as a potential source of power and fuel for electric vehicles.

The Australian firm has a breakthrough technology called Hydrogen Energy Release Optimizer (HERO), which converts hydrogen into heat without combustion.

The department also tied up with Tokyo-based Hydrogen Technology Inc. (HTI) last April to explore hydrogen as energy for the future.

Liberalizing energy sector

Cusi further said the country has become more open to foreign investors in the energy sector.

Under the third open and competitive selection process (OCSP3), the government now allows 100-percent foreign ownership of large-scale geothermal projects.

“In fact in geothermal, it used to be limited to Filipinos. We opened it to 100 percent to foreigners so we can expedite the development of our renewable energy sources and further promote new energy sources,” the DOE chief added.

This article was originally published by PNA.