December 19, 2014

Senator Santiago to Philippine Govt: Fast Track Implementation of Renewable Energy Policy

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Friday urged the government to fast track and "wholeheartedly" implement renewable energy policies in the country.

At a conference in Makati on Wednesday, Santiago said the Philippines has a "huge" potential for the use of renewable energy.

"As the situation stands, our renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, ocean, small hydro, and geothermal are no less than abundant," she said.

"We have reason to pursue the ambition that a few years from now, the Philippines should be the world leader in geothermal energy, the largest producer of wind power, and the solar manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia," Santiago added.

Santiago also said the renewable energy projects could be used to contribute to poverty alleviation.

"We could provide the energy needed to create businesses and jobs," she said. "In this way, we can turn locally available resources into productive economic assets."

Slow development

The feisty senator questioned why the country, which is an archipelago, is not generating energy from the ocean.

"Our government has taken very limited activities in the ocean sector because of the high cost of development," Santiago noted.

She added that the Renewable Energy Act has not been working as it should be.

"Action is too slow and our renewable energy supply is too small, after six years that the law has been in operation," Santiago said.

Santiago attributed the slow development to the following:

* High cost of renewable energy development due to limited number of local manufacturers, fabricators, and suppliers of renewable energy equipment and components which are mainly imported;
* Limited options to optimize the development of resources because of  a lack of an up-to-date database on renewable resources;
* Lack of capacity-building and training opportunities to enhance technical capabilities of stakeholders and potential developers;
* Need for stronger research and development on renewable energy;
* Limited infrastructure support;
* Limited information and education campaign activities on renewable energy that includes advocacy on its benefits.

She, however, said that she has filed at least three bills on a solar initiative commission, a bill to support research and development for the use of diverse sources of energy, and a bill to make use of renewable energy in the agriculture sector.

Santiago also suggested that aside from creating supportive policy, the private sector should be urged to be involved.

"We have to create a broad network of stakeholders working for a common goal," she said

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