Power your homes with renewable energy

In a famous home decorating online community, Janice Licup-Teologo shared how she has lowered her family’s monthly electricity bill by using solar power with net metering.

With two-kilowatt-peak solar panels that she got installed for P125,000, she can use two inverted air conditioners and one regular unit for almost 20 hours daily in her 80-square-meter, three-story house. Her monthly bill ranges from P1,100 to P1,900.

Alternatively, households (and businesses) using at least 500 kilowatts can shift to 100-percent geothermal power, thanks to Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

The Renewable Energy Law (RA 9513) of 2008 has yet to provide palpable financial incentives to consumers, but when it does, the government can expect more Filipino households investing in renewable energy options.

Net-zero goal

In December 2015, 196 parties adopted the Paris Agreement at COP21—officially known as the 21st Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The legally binding treaty aims to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, by 2050.

To achieve this, stakeholders should reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or offset it through natural carbon sinks and/or carbon credits.

In 2018, UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report that details the impact of having 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It states that human activities have caused an increase of one degree Celsius and global warming can reach 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if it continues at its current rate.

“Sea level will continue to rise well beyond 2100 (high confidence), and the magnitude and rate of this rise depend on future emission pathways. A slower rate of sea level rise enables greater opportunities for adaptation in the human and ecological systems of small islands, low-lying coastal areas and deltas (medium confidence),” the report says.

To sustain the 1.5-degree-Celsius target, the planet would need low-emission energy, that is, renewable energy sources. The report states that “in 1.5-degree-Celsius pathways with no or limited overshoot, renewables are projected to supply 70 to 85 percent (interquartile range) of electricity in 2050 (high confidence),” adding that shares of nuclear and fossil fuels with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) can increase.

Philippines and COP26

In December 2020, the Department of Energy (DOE) joined the first Energy Transition Council Meeting—preparatory to the upcoming COP26 this year—where DOE Undersecretary Jesus Cristino Posadas discussed the recent Philippine renewable energy policies, initiatives, and action programs relative to the global clean energy transition.

At the Renewables Talk hosted by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the United Arab Emirates recently, DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella mentioned the Philippines’ initiatives to increase renewable energy adoption, including boosting existing energy infrastructure and adopting green energy auction programs. He said that the country plans to reach 20 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2040.

Hjayceelyn Quintana, permanent representative of the Philippines to IRENA, also shared: “The clean energy scenario allows the entry of highly efficient energy technologies, electric vehicles and energy efficiency improvements across all sectors… The Philippines is committed to early action to put the country at a low-carbon development trajectory to avoid future emissions.”

Transformative benefits

In the automobile sector, Tesla, BYD and Geely are globally leading the transformation, according to Reuters’ The Sustainable Business Review in January 2021. Volkswagen, unfortunately, is part of the identified Top 25 Emitters, alongside other famous companies, mostly from the energy sector.

Homeseekers—albeit those who have money to dispose during this pandemic—are beginning to search for more sustainable buildings and green communities. And it won’t be long before property developers prioritize green building certifications because investors abroad are starting to demand compliance to state policies on sustainability, as confirmed by Colliers International Philippines.

Inverter technology was invented in 1980, but it took almost three decades before many Filipino consumers realized its energy-saving advantage over regular air conditioners.

One factor is that globally, people have just started to feel the earth’s increasing surface temperature—in 2019, it was 0.88 degrees Celsius hotter than the 20th-century average of 12 degrees Celsius. Moreover, Filipinos are as resilient from heat as the iconic bahay kubo, which is considered as the most architecturally suitable and sustainable building design for the tropics.

By smartly choosing products and services that uphold clean energy or reduces carbon footprint, homeowners and consumers can be part of the solution. But of course, environmental equity is only achievable if everyone, including the low-income households, is informed about policies and has access to clean technologies, infrastructure, and the like.