Govt looks for alternative energy sources

The government is looking to tap alternative power sources to achieve its goal of total electrification by next year, the Department of Energy (DoE) said on Tuesday.

DoE-Secretary-Alfonso-Cusi

In a virtual conference, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said “we’re trying to develop [indigenous sources] to ensure our energy security and make the cost affordable.”

According to him, 95 percent of the country is energized and the rest still don’t have access to electricity.

The Energy chief cited accessibility as one of the challenges in achieving the 100-percent electrification target set by the Duterte administration.

“The biggest problem that we have is the affordability and the cost of our tariff,” he said.
Coal accounted for 48 percent of the country’s energy mix, followed by renewable energy (RE) at 26 percent and natural gas at 21 percent, according to Cusi.

Coal is “the cheapest, but we would like to transition to clean energy,” he said, citing the government’s plan to increase RE resources.

The DoE banned the construction of new coal-fired power plants in October. However, existing and operational ones, as well as committed and indicative power projects with substantial accomplishments, are not included in the ban.

In a country where the private sector dominated the energy landscape, Cusi said finding the right balance was key to achieving energy security and affordable electricity rates.

The Covid-19 pandemic, he added, offered a way to make the necessary adjustments, as power demand has declined since the government imposed community quarantines in mid-March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Cusi said his department was keen on developing the reserve market, as the country only had just enough supply to meet its energy requirements.

“Our supply and demand is just neck-to-neck. We don’t have enough reserve,” Cusi said. “We’re looking at [a] power reserve equivalent to at least 30 percent of the peak demand. With that, we can let supply and demand push the price down.”