April 20, 2022
In line with this, for this month’s #RealiTalk, we asked Pinoy Climate Reality Leader Philline Donggay to share the latest trends, technologies, and developments on renewable energy in the country.
Philline became the first Climate Reality Leader from Mindanao after completing the Climate Reality Training in Jakarta in 2011. She has worked in climate change, clean energy, and sustainable finance for national and international development organizations in both Asia and Europe. She is the co-founder of Greenergy Solar PH, the first commercial solar service provider in her home region in the Southern Philippines.
In this #EarthDay2022 feature, Philline reminds us why the time is right for renewable energy transition in the Philippines and how the transition could provide affordable, reliable, and secure energy to the Filipino people, especially to Mindanaoans.
Indeed, the Philippines remains a vulnerable developing country yet straightens out more transition opportunities towards a renewable energy system. The archipelagic characteristic and geographical division of the Philippines yielded indigenous nature such as wind, water, and the sun—all are viable as renewable energy sources.
Being equipped with these natural resources makes it sensible for the Philippines to build clean energy systems and steer climate mitigation in response to the global goal of capping warming to 1.5°C. This dispels the Philippines from adapting fossil fuel-powered energy systems similar to developed countries.
Besides, technologies to leapfrog dirty energy are widespread. For instance, the Worldwide Fund for Nature advocates for clean energy through its studies on low-carbon development. Transitioning to a renewable energy system will rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still providing enough energy for public use. Likewise, it leads to development that fosters sustainability and inclusivity
Solar home kits and solar street lamps are ready for installation in an off-grid community in Mindanao.
Renewable energy technology has been proven at scale. Chief among them are solar photovoltaics and wind for their potential to generate and distribute electricity for immediate use.
Installing solar rooftop systems at home dodges electricity costs from commercial power distributors while self-providing household electricity. This marks up household climate resiliency, especially during extreme weather phenomena. Furthermore, solar photovoltaics can benefit mobility and transport systems with low-carbon technology that can supplement electric vehicle batteries. This generated a trend called “prosumerism,” a scenario wherein the consumer both produces and utilizes the electricity.
Altogether, with energy efficiency and sufficiency, the Philippines can eventually ‘electrify everything’ with emissions-free clean energy. It is the promise of distributed, decentralized, and democratized clean energy systems–a kind of “power to the people” story with climate resilience and adaptation.
A rice farm in Butig, Lanao del Sur transitioned from a fossil-fueled irrigation system to solar-powered panels.
Greenergy Solar’s Electrification project with local officials and electrical engineers in Northern Mindanao.
It is truly a great injustice for Filipinos who live without modern energy services; whose homes have no electricity; whose opportunities for social and economic development are therefore automatically limited as a result.
In Mindanao, energy poverty is highest due to the lack of grid infrastructure. Clean energy systems such as solar mini- or micro-grids can be operated in off-grid communities without the need to invest in transmission lines and towers.
Business and financial models must naturally follow suit to address challenges in initial capital expenditures, operating, and maintenance costs. Also, policymakers and civil society will be mindful that these models will not perpetuate unjust and tyrannous situations that the marginalized energy-poor communities are already experiencing. And for communities to own the system, local government and private sector entities shall comply and support technological and operational sustainability.
Solar-powered Community Water System in Tambulig Zamboanga del Sur
Greenergy banks on its purpose to build a clean energy future in Mindanao with the help of fellow stakeholders from the renewable energy industry. The future becomes clearer with every energy-related project initiated in the region—installation of solar power plant on a provincial government building’s rooftop; installation of solar-powered streetlights on off-grid communities; first wind turbine of an agricultural training center; transitioning of a rice farm’s diesel-powered irrigation system to solar panels; and the first electric vehicle solar charging station in the region.
In advancing renewable energy in Mindanao, we keep ourselves updated on non-renewable energy-based activities like the proposed buy-out of coal plants in the region so we could arrive at respective action points. There are also talks of revitalizing existing hydropower plants along Mindanao’s great rivers and turning its water reservoirs into energy storage alongside solar technology. We witnessed local universities incorporating educational programs on renewable energy which gained interest from the young people to be part of the industry.
Even as we see such dynamism in favor of the clean energy transition, we recognize there is much more to be done collectively. For this reason, we take part in communication campaigns and industry-wide information drives such as the Mindanao Goes Solar movement. The success of the renewable energy industry in Mindanao will cascade to its respective energy firms and shall bring the fruition of a clean energy future for every Mindanaoan.