Thursday, June 30, 2016

Boom in renewables drives energy remix

By: Riza T. Olchondra 12:34 AM June 30th, 2016
Renewable energy, or RE, is getting much attention amid the Philippines’ drive to grow its economy in an environmentally sustainable way and tap new technologies to diversify its energy sources to curb further its dependence on imported, finite energy sources such as coal and oil.

While the Department of Energy set the target of having a 30-30-30 energy mix consisting of coal, natural gas and RE (with the remainder to come from other technologies), the Climate Change Commission (CCC) embarked on a virtual crackdown on coal power generation under an “urgent and comprehensive” review of the government’s energy policy.

For their part, other agencies such as National Transmission Corp. (Transco), the quasi-judicial Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the advisory National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) are promoting RE through the implementation of the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) incentive program and innovations such as net metering, where households with RE installations may get paid for extra energy produced and exported to the grid. FIT in particular clicked among investors, especially for wind and solar power developments.

President Aquino signed Commission Resolution No. 2016-001 which mandated the CCC to do “a national policy review and framework development on energy, through a whole-of-nation approach, in accordance with a low carbon development pathway and national goals and targets for climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.”

Policy review

CCC, along with other concerned government agencies, will also set a clear government policy on coal-fired power plants, the biggest source of man-made carbon emissions. Coal-fired plants accounted for about 35 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In the resolution, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) are urged to harmonize policies and regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants and assess their impacts on the environment. The harmonized policies should include low-carbon development and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies to be adopted in the formulation of all national and local development plans.

The review is seen to pave the way for the country’s swift transition to renewable energy, enhance energy efficiency and conservation, and ensure clean, affordable and reliable energy for the entire country.

The transition, CCC vice chair and Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman said, was supported by existing laws such as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2011 and the Renewable Energy Law of 2008, which both back environment-friendly, indigenous and low-cost sources of energy.

Aquino, who chairs the CCC, signed the resolution on May 18, 2016. The other signatories were De Guzman and Commissioners Frances Veronica Victorino and Noel Antonio Gaerlan.

In October 2015, the Philippines submitted during the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), in which the country pledged to reduce its GHG emissions by 70 percent by 2030, subject to support provided by developed countries. The reductions will come from the energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors. As a member of the UNFCCC, the Philippines supported the adoption of the global climate accord reached in Paris, France in December last year.

De Guzman said an urgent review of the government’s energy policy was necessary given the growing number of new coal power plants in the country and the global demand for drastic GHG emission reductions to achieve the primary goal of the new global climate deal reached in Paris, which was to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We must aim for nothing less than the transformation of the country into an economy with a low carbon energy development pathway,” De Guzman said.

The CCC resolution affirms the government’s resolve to mainstream low carbon development pathway in accordance with the country’s commitment under the UNFCCC and its INDC, which indicates what post-2020 climate actions the pledging country intends to take, he said. Under the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015, the INDC will become the first Nationally Determined Contribution or NDC when a country ratifies the agreement, unless it decides to submit a new one.

Last month in New York, the Philippines—through Environment Secretary Ramon Paje—signed the Paris Agreement on the recommendation of the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation. The Philippines also supported the adoption of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Reduction Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which both advocate for a balance between economic growth and environmental protection toward building a resilient future.

Environmentalists and other groups support the CCC’s move and called for a bigger role of RE in the country’s energy portfolio.

Gov’t drive

State firms such as National Power Corp. (Napocor) are helping keep RE momentum going with a program to pursue hybrid systems (mixing diesel and RE) in its missionary electrification program to lower the subsidy rates for the 290 Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) power plants across the country.

Company president and CEO Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita said Napocor’s RE program aimed to install some 2.7 MW of solar projects to mix with existing diesel plants in off-grid areas with sizes ranging from 16kW to 152 kW.

However, Napocor’s RE program has not yet included wind hybrid systems as it has yet to conduct wind data acquisition and analyses in targeted areas.

On top of lowering the subsidy, Napocor hopes that with the hybrid system, it will be able to extend the operating hours of its power plants in the islands, especially during day time, she said.

“The use of renewable energy is expected to lower the subsidy in missionary areas where there is high cost of fuel due to their remoteness and susceptibility to imminent weather. Though reduction in the Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME) may vary depending on the true cost of generation in the area and the true cost of generation of RE resources, we still see reduction in UCME requirement from solar and wind resources in missionary areas,” she said.

Napocor has already started its capacity development training on RE in partnership with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) of Taiwan. The training course conducted was on Solar PV-Diesel Hybrid System.

FIT and its financial impact

According to a Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) study on the impact of FIT-incentivized resources in the spot market, there is a possible net decrease in energy spot market costs that may be enjoyed by consumers with RE getting priority dispatch in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and pushing out more expensive diesel-powered peaking plants.

However, only customers of distribution utilities that buy about 11 percent from the WESM may enjoy such reduction in power cost. If the utilities buy less than that, the benefit will be less, and their customers still have to pay the universal charge to support FIT incentives (called the FIT-Allowance or FIT-All). The utilities that do not buy from WESM and the utilities in Mindanao, which do not have their own WESM, will not benefit and they still have to pay FIT-All.

Thus, in terms of enjoying the full benefits of FIT, utilities would do well if they have a good mix in their power portfolio and not to fully contract their demand through bilateral contracts. Should they go for bilateral contracts, they should also look at such energy sources as embedded RE plants like solar farms to avoid payment of transmission fees that could translate to savings for customers.

Overall, industry players—from state energy firms to private generation companies and utilities—all agree that RE is playing a bigger role in the Philippine market and will remain on the radar of investors because of government support in the form of incentives, as well as non-financial support such as priority dispatch of RE in the WESM.

New growth areas for renewable energy

By: Riza T. Olchondra 12:20 AM June 30th, 2016

Under the National Renewable Energy Program, the Philippines is supposed to grow its renewable energy (RE) capacity by 22,000 MW to meet a target energy mix where RE will account for 35 percent of the total by 2030. Including geothermal and hydroelectric, RE now accounts for 26 percent of the mix.

Estimates show that more than one million households in Mindanao remain without electricity. Those with access to power supply do not always enjoy stable electricity services. Brownouts, particularly in the summer months, are prevalent.

Mindanao’s power woes

A regional trend has been developing in the power sector, where Mindanao is emerging as the new growth area for investments.

It is a power sellers’ market in Mindanao, which has been the case since 2010. The power situation worsened in 2013 when some key cities in Mindanao suffered three to six hours of rotating outages as old, state-run hydroelectric power plants were running below capacity due to inefficiency and lack of rainfall to replenish water reserves.

This situation caught the attention of investors and that started the inflow of power investments to the area despite the peace and order situation in some parts of Mindanao, according to Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) director Romeo M. Montenegro.

The region needs to intensify its push for RE to reverse the 70 (fossil fuel)-30 (RE) by 2018 when new coal-fired plants start operating, Montenegro said during the recent Asia Clean Energy Forum at the Asian Development Bank headquarters. He said efforts would be strengthened to have green energy projects rolled out to meet the 60 (RE)-40 mix by 2030.

Speaking of Mindanao investors, top of mind is Mindanao-based Alsons Consolidated Resources Inc. (ACR) which, company chair and president Tomas I. Alcantara said, was in talks with long-time strategic partner Toyota Tsusho Corp. and other firms for a lineup of RE projects.

ACR is set to undertake the 15- to 16- megawatt (MW) Siguil hydroelectric power project in Maasim River in Sarangani. It would entail an investment of $40 million to $45 million.

The company is also seeking permits from the Department of Energy for a total of 70MW in additional hydropower projects. These may cost $140 million, or between $2 million and $4 million for every 1 MW capacity of a hydropower project.

ACR may also invest in about 150 MW of solar power projects “on an opportunistic basis,” said VP for business development Joseph Nocos.

The company is pursuing the projects under newly formed Alsons Renewable Energy Corp. Alcantara said ACR was keen on solar as Mindanao, its home region, has an abundance of sunlight.

“We’re looking ahead to what Mindanao grid will need. There are enough baseload power plants being built, so we think there will be adequate baseload in the next 10-15 years. We see opportunities in the RE space,” Nocos said.

Companies in Luzon and Visayas are also considering Mindanao for expansion.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. chair Manuel V. Pangilinan recently said the group was keen on expanding its presence in the Visayas and even in the power sector in Mindanao through Global Business Power Corp., a power generation player in Visayas and some parts of Luzon.

Emerging RE provider Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings Inc. is also keen on Mindanao. Company CEO Leandro L. Leviste said Solar PH would put up an 18-MW facility in Cagayan de Oro, under a 228-MW rollout, this year or next.

The Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee or MPMC said the Mindanao grid needed at least 500 MW of new power capacity by 2016, another 500 MW by 2020, and 1,600 MW by 2030.

A total of 580 MW of power capacity is expected to go on stream this year, another 720 MW in 2016 and 550.6 MW in 2017. Most of these plants, however, still use coal. This means there is still a lot of room for RE, Montenegro said.

Committed projects (ready for construction or under construction) for 2016 include the 40-MW Green Power biomass project, the 25-MW Lake Mainit hydroelectric power, the 135-MW FDC coal-fired unit 1, 150-MW SMC Davao coal power unit 1, 100-MW Sarangani coal-fired unit 2, and FDC coal-fired unit 3.

As for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, San Miguel Corp. recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the ARMM local government to develop a range of infrastructure from energy to ports and bulk water facilities. Under the MOU, SMC will build a power plant to help provide long-term solutions to Mindanao’s power crisis.

SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said ARMM was one of the most under-penetrated markets in the Philippines and was now “ripe” for investments. SMC has committed to build over the next two years a power plant that will serve the entire ARMM region.

The ARMM region has an estimated 573,446 households. An average household uses 200 kwh of power monthly, which means it would take a 115-MW power plant to serve this area alone.

Experts said that, at the rate projects were being approved, Mindanao would have more than enough power supply by late 2016. However, they said it was hard to tell how pent up the demand was in the area. If there is much pent up demand, consumption could surge and outpace supply soon after it becomes available.

MinDA, the lead government agency in Mindanao, set up in 2014 a one-stop facilitation and monitoring center for RE projects. It is an online portal that allows a company to monitor the process and approval of its application. The center is supported by the United States Agency for International Development’s Climate Change and Clean Energy Project.

Based on a 2012 MinDA study, the processing of RE applications, particularly hydroelectric, usually took about five years while construction took another two years. The center seeks to substantially cut this down. It has been tracking 284 RE proposals in Mindanao, with capacity of 3,773 MW to be made available by 2030.

Solar cafes

In terms of technology, solar power is the hottest thing these days with project applications expanding from ground-mounted solar farms to rooftop applications in malls, factories, stand-alone restaurants, schools, hospitals, office buildings, waiting sheds, parking spaces, and charging stations for e-vehicles. These are considered “distributed” power (generated at the site where it will be used).

Conglomerates SM Investments Corp., JG Summit, the Aboitiz Group, Ayala Group, EEI Corp. and Manila Electric Co. have started to venture into solar power projects. But most of their projects are in large solar farms (ground-mounted) or large rooftop-mounted space that give enough scale for recovering investments. There are, however, those that target the less-explored markets.

Japanese-Filipino firm Transnational Uyeno Corp. (TUSC) targets the commercial market with the rollout of 2 MW of solar power this year for the likes of Jollibee Foods Corp. and Starbucks.

It has so far built 18 projects with capacity of 1 MW, company general manager Jen S. Tablante said, with 10 more projects lined up to meet its 2-MW target.

One of its larger projects is a 103-kilowatt-hour (kWh) installation for the Keppel shipyard in Batangas, director Nicolas A Bivero said. Also lined up are solar rooftop installations for branches of TUSC’s existing clients, the Jollibee and Starbucks chains.

TUSC is a joint venture between Philippines-based Transnational Renewable Energy Corp. (TREC) and Japan-based Uyeno Green Solutions Ltd. (UGS).

“Of all our projects, we are particularly proud of those that are able to integrate solar energy into the daily lives of our consumers. Projects like our e-trike charging stations, and solar-powered Jollibee and Starbucks branches,” TDG president Rashid A. Delgado said.

TUSC serves the middle segment of the solar power market, focusing on commercial and industrial installations rather than small household (served by companies like Solaready Inc.) and “mega-sized” ground-mounted solar farms (served by companies like Solar PH).

He said this segment was expected to grow quickly over the next few years since more companies were becoming aware of the big savings from using their own solar power installations. Also, the cost of solar rooftop installations has gone down.

Solar power also jives well with eco-tourism. Salamangka Beach & Dive Resort in Siquijor has successfully adopted solar power. It completed the integration of solar panels in its design in March 2015 and was disconnected from the grid about two months later.

Hydro: Small but sustainable

The country has shown investment potential for mini-hydroelectric power projects, as large hydro projects may no longer be sustainable amid periods of drought.

A recent development in the small hydro sector is the opening of the micro-hydro power plant funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica). The 820-kilowatt, JPY 922-million (about P460 million) project was built to help supply electricity in Asipulo, Ifugao and raise revenue for the Rice Terraces Conservation Fund.

Investors show signs of serious interest in small hydropower projects mainly due to the feed-in tariff (FIT) system. The Energy Regulatory Commission-approved FIT rates for this segment as of July 2012 were as follow: run-of-river hydro (P5.90 per kilowatt-hour or kWh) for an installation target of 250 MW; biomass (P6.63/kWh) for 250 MW; solar (P9.68/kWh) for 50 MW, and wind (P8.53/kWh) for 200 MW.

However, investors noted there was need to give greater importance to small-scale hydropower projects. With improved technology, hydro turbines could last for 100 years, experts said, describing the long asset life of hydropower technology. The appeal comes as the DOE bared its plan to legislate the fuel mix policy and current incentives for the development of renewable energy under Republic Act 9513 or the RE Act of 2008.

ACR is among those most bullish about mini-hydro with a lineup of run-of-river power projects with capacity of 700 MW, likely to be undertaken with partner Toyota Tsusho.

Also gearing to ride the flood of mini-hydro developments is Cleantech Global Renewables Inc. Its president and CEO, Salvador Antonio Castro Jr., said the company was set to spend $400 million on hydroelectric power projects to expand its RE portfolio.

The Aboitiz Group is also ramping up hydro projects. Aboitiz Power Corp. completed the construction of the 14-MW Sabangan run-of-river project in 2015 and expects to complete the 68-MW Manolo Fortich hydroelectric power plant in Bukidnon in 2017. Through SN Aboitiz Power-Magat, the group completed on June 1 the upgrade of the Magat River Integrated Irrigation System Reservoir at the boundary of Isabela and Ifugao.

Small geothermal

When it comes to geothermal power, the Lopez Group is top of mind. Lopez-led Energy Development Corp. is even pushing for a FIT for geothermal power to boost investment in the sector and expand capacity to 3,000 MW.

“It (geothermal sector) needs to be supported because the economics just doesn’t work today,” company president and COO Richard B. Tantoco told reporters. Since other RE technologies with intermittent power production such as wind and solar get FIT incentives, he said it made sense to also give incentives to clean technology such as geothermal which could provide consistent energy output.

According to DOE data, the Philippines has 1,900 MW of installed geothermal capacity. There are studies that show a potential of up to 3,400 MW. That did not include national parks that could host geothermal power facilities, Tantoco said.

With incentives, the country’s geothermal capacity could grow by another 1,100MW to 1,500MW. This will help the Philippines meet its goal of curbing carbon emissions while providing stable and affordable power to Filipinos, Tantoco said.

“It takes time to develop geothermal projects, but many will invest in it if they are offered a FIT of P5.50 to P6 per kwh.”

EDC executive vice president Ernesto Pantangco said that under the National Renewable Energy Program, the Philippines was supposed to grow RE by 22,000 MW to meet the goal of RE accounting for 35 percent of the country’s energy mix by 2030.

“How can you expect geothermal to fill in that gap when we have difficulty in competing,” Tantoco said. “Geothermal has the biggest contribution because of its baseload (24/7) operation, but again, how realistic will this be unless there is an incentive to promote geothermal.”

The Aboitiz Group supported calls for a FIT rate for small geothermal projects. AboitizPower COO Antonio Moraza said small geothermal projects lacked the scale of older facilities such as the Tiwi and Mak-Ban power plants but entailed nearly as much development work and therefore needing government support.

AboitizPower owns the 692-MW Tiwi and Mak-Ban geothermal power plants. It is also considering acquiring Chevron Corp.’s geothermal assets in the Philippines to expand its portfolio.

“We are always on the lookout for opportunities in the Philippines and Asia,” AboitizPower CEO Erramon Aboitiz said.

Chevron plans to sell its Asean geothermal assets. It has a 40-percent interest in Philippine Geothermal Production Co. Inc., which produces steam for the Tiwi and Mak-Ban geothermal power plants. It also has interest in the Kalinga geothermal prospect in Luzon that could support 100 MW of capacity.


An abundant but untapped energy resource in the Philippines is biomass. The country has abundant supply of biomass resources—farm wastes, forest residues, animal wastes, agro-industrial wastes, municipal solid wastes and aquatic biomass. The most common agricultural wastes are rice hull, bagasse, coconut shell/husk and coconut coir.

Rice farmers and millers have started to warm up to biomass power. A consortium of rice millers, Isabela Biomass Energy Corp. (IBEC), is building a 20-MW rice-husk-fired power plant in Alicia, Isabela, and is keen on getting FIT incentives.

IBEC has tapped local bank Banco de Oro for a credit line of P1.8 billion to help finance the power project and its link to the national grid.

Biomass power generation can rejuvenate agri-focused businesses as well. Victorias Milling Co. Inc. is energizing its way to financial health with a P1.1-billion, 40-MW biomass power project that is being applied for FIT incentives. It is set to put up a cogeneration facility using bagasse (leftover sugarcane fiber or sapal) at the VMC agro-industrial complex in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.

VMC’s usage of 3.1 million to 3.3 million tons of cane is seen to provide enough raw materials for the facility. When the biomass power station starts transmitting power to the Visayas grid, VMC will be able to collect on the FIT incentive.

VMC has formed subsidiary Victorias Green Energy Corp. (VGEC) to undertake its power-related projects.

One of the biggest suppliers of refined sugar in the Philippines, VMC supplies about 30 percent of the country’s daily need for refined sugar. It sources its raw materials from district and non-district planters as well as through cane and raw sugar purchases.

A prominent biomass development announced recently is that of Bronzeoak Philippines, which is run by sugarcane farming Zabaleta family. Bronzeoak subsidiary South Negros BioPower developed, in partnership with ThomasLloyd and funded by Cleantech Infrastructure Fund, a 25-MW Biomass Power Plant that would deliver about 175,000,000 kWh of electricity per year. I

Foreign investors have also started to notice the Philippines’ potential for biomass power. Scottish firm MacKay Green Energy Inc. (MGE) is investing $100 million in a biomass power plant and plantation for feedstock in Mindanao. Company chair James R. Mackay said MGE would construct three biomass power stations with capacity of 32 MW.

The Aboitiz Group is also into biomass, with its 8.8-MW biomass plant in Batangas (under Aboitiz Renewables) nearing completion.

Biomass power is also being considered for the transport industry. Aboitiz-led AseaGas Corp.’s 8.8 MW Lian biomass power plant in Batangas is keen on exporting power to the Luzon grid and is considering prospects in powering modern commercial trucks with gas, Aseagas president and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz said.

Oil firm Eastern Petroleum Group is also diversifying into biomass power and has been seeking funding for a P4-billion biomass plant.

Ocean energy

Compared to wind energy, ocean energy is still in its infancy but investors have started taking notice of the Philippines’ potential for various forms of ocean power—tidal wave energy (a form of hydropower that converts the up-and-down kinetic energy from tides into electricity), ocean wave energy (converts multi-directional kinetic energy from wind-driven ocean waves into power) and thermal energy (using temperature differences between cooler deep and warmer shallow seawaters to make electricity).

Investors from France and the United Kingdom have said the Philippines had a big potential for ocean energy production.

Bell Prie Power (Philippines) CEO Lourdesiree Latimer said there was so much potential for ocean energy production in the country, especially in western Luzon.

“That is the Silicon Valley of ocean energy,” she said.

RE developers left out shriveling in the sun

By: Riza T. Olchondra 12:38 AM June 30th, 2016

The race for the second batch of feed-in-tariff (FIT) incentives for solar power ended last March 15, but solar power developers feel they are still vying for something they can’t fully grasp.

Clueless, these developers don’t know how they could proceed operating their solar plants in case they did not make the cut. In addition, the tendency of the government to keep the list close to its chest has made the second phase of the program controversial.

For the first cut of solar projects, developers were given a guaranteed return or FIT rate of P9.68 per kWh. Those who were able to build and operate their plants before March 15, 2016, the deadline for the second phase of awarding of solar FIT, were vying for a much lower rate of P8.69 per kWh.

Regulators and private renewable energy developers all agree FIT incentives make projects viable and bankable because of guaranteed rates for otherwise expensive technologies, especially those that utilize wind and solar energy.

However, the Philippine solar industry, represented by the Philippine Solar Power Alliance (PSPA), expressed fear the limited slots would just leave other solar power developers scrimping for loose change in order to operate.

PSPA recently asked Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada to make clearer the FIT eligibility rules and provide updates on how solar companies would be able to qualify in their bid for the latest solar FIT rate.

PSPA legal counsel Beverly Ann C. Noriega told Monsada the program could be oversubscribed by 200 MW as indicated by the number of solar projects completed within the timeframe. Only a total of 500 MW would be able to make it.

“Right now, solar companies feel some sense of uncertainty on whether their projects are included in the FIT list. Some PSPA members reported they remain insecure as they have no way to verify if their plants are eligible even though they are already operating,” she said.

DOE Assistant Secretary Mario Marasigan could not say yet which developers have qualified since the department has to check and recheck which of the projects were able to pass eligibility requirements.

Monsada, for her part, said, “In any race or competition, there will be winners and losers. We at DOE just want to be sure that when we declare the winners, we can back it up with data [that is justified]. That’s why we are taking our time to check and recheck. There will always be questions [from] among those who did not make the cut. That’s to be expected.”

As of May 30, or 54 days since the deadline, the list has already been revised three times.

FIT time-out

The National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reform Inc. (Nasecore), meanwhile, has called on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to suspend the FIT program and for the DOE to show which among the renewable energy firms strictly complied with the program’s guidelines.

The power watch group recently sent a letter to ERC chair Jose Salazar requesting for the suspension of the FIT until such time all doubts about the compliance of companies have been removed.

Another group, Foundation for Economic Freedom, also recently filed before the Supreme Court a petition to halt the FIT program. Nasecore was one of the intervenors in that petition.

“We cannot turn a blind eye on this matter of national interest. The Filipino people have been faced with a never-ending series of power rate increases and because of FIT, they would again be forced to shell out more to pay for the generation costs of these solar farms. What’s worse is that these power plant developers are able to disregard the rules set for this process, which from the beginning was unfair to the regular electricity consumer,” said Nasecore president Pete L. Ilagan.

In Nasecore’s letter to Monsada dated April 7, 2016, it called attention to reports several solar plant developers bypassed requirements in order to beat the March 15 deadline.

“We recognize the need for incentives to encourage the entry of renewable energy but since the public will be shouldering this subsidy, we as consumers have the right to know if indeed these solar companies deserve our hard-earned money,” Ilagan said.

All electricity consumers nationwide will have to pay P0.12 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumed to subsidize the operations of FIT-eligible renewable energy developers. Currently, distribution utilities are collecting P0.04/kWh.

Asked for the possibility of suspending FIT, Salazar said the debate must first be resolved by legislators since the implementation of FIT was provided by law.

“Since FIT implementation is under the RE Law, this issue on whether we should impose FIT can be resolved by our legislators … Then we can act accordingly,” he said.

Readers talk about coal use, solar energy

BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 30, 2016 - 12:00am

Here is a rather lengthy letter from Melanchthon C. Bernil who introduced himself as the vice president of Rio Verde Water Corp. Following are his views on my recent column, “Balancing concerns on coal,” where the sensitive issue of coal use for power generation is discussed in view of the country’s commitment to the recently concluded Paris accord.
Let’s hear him out: “I publicly know you since you were with Shell Oil company. Your article above-captioned is good, but not good enough when it comes to scientific truth and realities in the real world.
“The latest technology on coal to minimize CO2 and pollutants is the so-called ultra-supercritical firing in the boiler in tandem with low NOX burners. I don’t know your educational background, so I could not explain it to you because mostly chemical engineers can understand what I am talking about.
“If you want actual practice of using renewables (solar and wind) and minimizing fossils (bunker, diesel, LNG, and coal), check with Germany. The Germans are now experiencing energy poverty.
“Even here in Philippines, an increase in power rate was effected early this year because of renewables. You must be familiar with FIT or Feed-In-Tariff.
“But don’t get me wrong, our company is also into renewable energy projects because that is the in-thing this time.

“The so-called climate change problem attributed to anthropogenic CO2 is a hoax. Even the original proponent of the greenhouse gas theory, Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, was not able to prove by actual demonstration or experiment that absorption of the Earth-emitted long wave infra red by CO2 can cause the atmosphere to increase in temperature, and in turn, heat up the Earth. 
“Long wave infrared is a cooled radiation. You cannot even feel it. The very hot ones are the short wave radiation, which are the UV-A, UV-B and UV-C (ultraviolet lights). These are radiation direct from the sun.
“The New World Order (NWO), among them Al Gore, etc. are trying to fool the ordinary people, especially third world scientifically-ignorant citizens. Al Gore has not even studied science. He finished law, but has never practiced as a lawyer.
“So, for sanity, check Patrick Moore, the former head of Greenpeace. Or Richard Lindzen, a PhD, and professor emeritus of MIT. Or Roy Spencer, the former NASA officer, with PhD.
“I am an experienced chemical engineer for 40 years in various industries, and mostly I dealt with Western engineers in my early years of practice. And I pity those who are feeling self-righteous about climate change.

What’s the fuss?
“Climate change is normal for the last four or five billions years of Earth’s existence. There was a time when almost 90 percent of the Earth’s species were extinct because of harsh climate change.
“The official UN-IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report in 2013, the last one prior to their AR5 report, has not mentioned about the things the so-called climate change enthusiasts are harping on. 
“Drought, sea level rise, hurricanes, etc. are worse before than today, says the IPCC with high confidence. So what’s all the fuss about? It is for the interest of those people who would be making undue advantage to others, and will be making more money.
“Imagine, they blame it on CO2, which is a measly 0.04 percent in the atmosphere! Where can you find, in this universe where less than one percent, or worse, 0.04 percent, is the one controlling the events?
“Above all, scientifically talking, their theory is a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. That law in essence is expressed in entropy (the degree of disorderliness), and means a body cannot be heated by energy coming from it.
“But of course, you would feel disbelief because almost everybody thinks that the climate change problem is due to CO2 and is correct – just like many would be surprised to hear that Dec. 25 is not the true birth date of Jesus.
“On this particular topic, when I made the research and asked my professors in theology in college, they all agree Jesus was not born on Dec. 25. On this date, Israel is very cold and you cannot see shepherds roaming in the fields.
“But I think you will check these things because I don’t believe that all old dogs don’t learn new tricks. There are exceptions. But don’t ask Loren Legarda or Heherson Alvarez or even the Climate Change Commission chairman because all of them did not study chemistry or physics in college. 
“So, if they encounter the Stefan-Boltzman Law (The rate of long wave energy emission is proportional to the absolute temperature of the surface raised to the fourth power), they will not understand. Savvy?”

Make it happen
Here’s another reader who wrote about his views about my earlier column about renewables. Jon Harrington is from Costa Rica, which was mentioned in a previous column (“Keeping our Commitment to the Paris Accord,” May 26, 2016) for its abundance of hydroelectric power. Here goes.
“I read your post on shifting to renewables. I understand how the government has to get behind the initiative. Here in Costa Rica, we expound on how much we supplied from the hydro plants. But it is risky in a changing environment to put all your energy production into one source. But that is where we are now.
“I have been in business here for several years. Last year the only legal means to install solar energy to the grid, and net meter that energy, was shut down. For over a year, the government and power companies delayed any start of distributed generation programs.
“Last month, we got a new program initiated that will still make solar economically feasible in most cases.
 “But in a country that tells the world, ‘You should be like us,’ we have 0.06 percent of the energy installed capacity as solar. It adds up to less than 7 MW. I think the county I lived in before moving here from the US, with a population of 30,000, has more installed solar than Costa Rica.
“Make it happen in the Philippines. Your society depends on that shift.”

Incoming energy chief sets top priorities

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 30, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Incoming energy secretary Alfonso Cusi will continue to work on securing reliable power supply and aim to achieve lower power rates “in the eyes of the consumers.”
In a chance interview with reporters yesterday, Cusi said he will resume all the programs his predecessor, outgoing Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada, started.
He said “continuity of programs, securing reliable power” are the top priorities of the new administration in the energy sector.
In terms of bringing down electricity rates, he said “we’re looking at it from the perspective of the consumer.”
Cusi said he is still in the process of organizing his team, assessing the officials under his predecessor.
“We’re still assessing, but no surprises. I have my own team, but just like in basketball, you’ll see first if you don’t need to replace people,” he said.
A day before assuming his post, Cusi was briefed by the National Electrification Administration, the National Power Corp., the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp. and the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. on updates in the sector.
Since he was named by incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has his energy secretary, Cusi has been meeting with Monsada and the rest of the Department of Energy family.
In their meetings, Monsada said they have given Cusi an overview of the energy sector, with more focus on the electricity sector since it has the most issues and concerns.
“We are preparing a transition report to guide him. We hope to be able to guide him through a smooth transition. Hopefully, he will appreciate and continue those the programs that were started,” she said earlier.
Cusi was formerly a general manager of Manila International Airport Authority and Philippine Ports Authority during the Arroyo administration.

He was implicated on numerous occasions by former Shari’a judge Nagamura Moner as his handler in the rigging of the 2004 presidential elections in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.