This article was last edited on 2015-10-26 10:33:47

The Center for Research and Communication and the UA&P School of Economics organized “A Road Map for a Renewable Energy Agenda for the Next Administration: An RTD on Renewable Energy” on July 29, 2015 at UA&P’s Telengtan Hall. The round table discussion, facilitated by Dr. Peter Lee U, Dean of the UA&P School of Economics, brought together government and industry experts in the energy sector to discuss current challenges in harnessing renewable energy. In his Welcome Remarks, Dr. Bernardo Villegas noted the need for developing renewable energy sources due to the volatility of oil prices, which may rise again in the future. Mr. Pete H. Maniego Jr., Chairman, National Renewable Energy Board, gave the first presentation “The Status of Renewable Energy Development in the Philippines and Proposed Policy Directions for Sustainable and Reliable Power Supply.” Mr. Maniego said that the Department of Energy’s plan to meet 30% of national energy needs from renewables has to be reviewed, and that current plans for building additional coal-fired power plants have to be aligned towards this goal

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Mr. Rommel E. Reyes of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines presented “Challenges on Integrating Variable Renewable Energy Plants to the Grid.” Mr. Reyes cited two key considerations: 1) additional wind turbines and wind farms can only be built at specific locations, and doing so would call for more investments in transmission lines; and 2) wind turbines and solar arrays generate fluctuating output, which has to be managed by supplementing them with traditional energy sources and storage technologies. His presentation was followed by that of Mr. Neeraj Bhat, Philippines Managing Director of AES Corporation, titled “Battery Energy Storage: Integrating Renewable Energy into the Power Grid.” Mr. Bhat showed the advantages brought by AES’ battery storage systems, such as allowing solar installations to be built closer to end consumers. He also presented test data from a solar plant with an AES system, and how the plant’s output, which was reduced to 50% in a matter of seconds due to cloud cover, was also immediately normalized in seconds when the storage system was activated.

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Dr. Ricardo G. Barcelona, Managing Director of Barcino Advisers, gave a presentation titled “Renewable Energy Investments: It’s Business, Not Altruism.” Dr. Barcelona contrasted the “good old days” of national energy policy planning, when prices for petroleum and other energy were relatively stable, with today’s fossil fuel price fluctuations—and emphasized the importance of renewables in mitigating these fluctuations. He also defended wind and solar energy against arguments of inefficiency, noting that in the past natural gas was considered inefficient compared to coal and petroleum, but the technology developed to make it more reliable and affordable. The same can be expected from renewables. In the open forum, participants tackled the procedures in building and licensing renewable energy installations, as well as the challenge of fluctuating prices for the current energy market setup.

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Participants at the round table discussion included representatives from the Department of Energy, Eastern Petroleum, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, National Power Corp., National Transmission Corp., Philippine Electricity Market Corp., Philippine Rural Cooperative Association, Private Electric Power Operators Association, Inc., San Carlos Solar Energy, and TBS Industrial Services, Inc.