10 August 2011 in Business Mirror
UK firm to Aquino: Do not delay RE Act implementation
GLOBAL Green Power Plc. Corp. (GGPC), a UK-based biomass developer, urged on Wednesday the Philippine government to fast-track the development of renewable energy (RE) “at the soonest possible time.”
In an open letter to President Aquino, Maribeth de Montaigne, GGPC president, said there appears to be attempts to put on the backburner a program being pushed by the Department of Energy (DOE) to promote RE, following a Board of Investments’ (BOI) pronouncement to delay implementation of RE Act of 2008.
De Montaigne said BOI’s statement seem to have overlooked efforts exerted by Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, along with the National Renewable Energy Board (Nreb), to deliver affordable RE.
“This is something we cannot understand as the nation faces yet another impending power crisis. What will be our alternative? Continued unabated expansion and use of imported coal and oil?” she said.
De Montaigne said the country is looking forward to a higher growth rate as international investor confidence in the Philippines is affirmed and the energy sector must be ready to support this surge in the economy with sufficient and reasonably priced electricity.
De Montaigne said the Aquino administration has committed to pursue RE as this can free the Filipino from the impact of staggering world oil-and-coal prices.
“Our country needs to embrace cost competitive RE without delay and without fear or favor to those who seek the deferral of clean, cost effective renewable energy for reasons of either being misinformed or vested interests,” de Montaigne said.
She said claims that RE is expensive are shortsighted given the country’s dependence on imported coal and oil, the price of which are highly volatile and increasingly becoming more expensive.
“New technology today provides us the ability to generate and deliver baseload power from RE sources, cheaper than newly built coal or oil-based power generation facilities, when developed within the framework of the Renewable Energy Act,” she said.
De Montaigne said it would be a national disgrace therefore not to encourage, support and maximize the deployment of this technology with all possible haste.
De Montaigne said GGPC’s Thermal Biomass Grid Connected (TBGC) power plants can deliver cheaper renewable energy at P7 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) through the feed-in-tariff (FIT) rate proposed by the NREB to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
She explained biomass plants, on the other hand, could only increase in cost if measured on the Consumer Price Index but with minimal foreign-exchange rate fluctuations. These plants have no fuel cost pass through burden for the 20-year FIT duration “unlike coal and oil power plants that are subject to an upward fossil fuel pricing trend and price volatility and fuel pass through,” de Montaigne said.
De Montaigne added Global Green’s proposed rate is cheaper than coal plants priced in excess of P8/kWh to electric cooperatives and distribution utilities as evidenced by the most recent ERC approved electricity supply agreements (Esas).
She said these coal plants’ Esas embody the latest capital cost of equipment, development cost, construction cost, fuel cost on a pass through basis, as well as operations and maintenance for a newly built coal plants, adding that coal plants also receive BOI incentives similar to RE Act.
“The Renewable Energy Act’s FIT rate pricing structure for biomass will deliver consumers a less expensive and stable power price based on basic CPI increases within the Philippines for 20 years,” she said.
De Montaigne said time will set the record straight and will prove that GGPC-TBGC power plants will reduce the cost of new and future power supply in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao while delivering extraordinary socioeconomic benefits.
GGPC biomass power plants are smaller-scale power plants at 17.5 megawatts (MW) to 35 MW and will use agricultural and food processing waste as an alternative fuel to fossil fuel.
De Montaigne said these are dedicated power-only plants embedded into the franchise area of local electric cooperatives delivering distributed power generation that will help stabilize and improve efficiency of the local and national grid system.
De Montaigne said 35 MW GGPC-TBGC displaces an estimated P138 billion of imported oil-based diesel fuel and provides direct income of an estimated P33 billion to the host community over 25 years of operation.
She said each GGPC-TBGC provides 3,400 jobs in each rural location supporting clean, renewable-energy generation through the collection, transportation, and processing of agricultural waste that are currently either burned in the fields causing carbon dioxide, or left to rot causing methane which are both greenhouse gasses that significantly contribute toward climate change and global warming.
“The Philippines still needs significant supplies of electricity from fossil fuels to enable the nation’s growth. This, however, should not be at the expense of our environment and total disregard of latest technologies that can provide power at prices cheaper than newly built coal and oil based power plants,” de Montaigne said.