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Renewable energy program has stalled, says NREB

Euan Paulo C. Anonuevo for InterAksyon.com

MANILA, June 6, 2012 – The National Renewable Energy Board said the country’s renewable energy program has stalled.

Speaking during the Philippine launch of the Global Renewable Energy Status Report 2012, Pete H. Maniego Jr., NREB chairman, said regulator delays have delayed the program at a time when oversupply brought down the cost of development.

“Who are against the deployment or RE? The fossil-fuel people, the power players who make a lot of money from their coal plants,” he said.

NREB is the agency tasked by the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 to come up with the incentives and programs outlined under the law. It has been pushing for the passage of the feed-in-tariff for renewables to attract investments in such projects.

The FIT guarantees investors’ returns over a set period as majority of RE projects are not financially viable without such a subsidy, which consumers would have to pay for through higher electricity bills.

Maniego said critics have promoted misconceptions about the impact of the FIT on electricity rates so much so that it has been delayed for years at the expense of needed investments.

NREB estimates the delays cost the country some P106 billion in foregone investments.

“RE will actually reduce electricity prices,” Maniego said, once the initial increase in electricity rates is overtaken by the rise in the cost of conventional power plants.

NREB estimates the cost of RE to be equal to that of coal plants in eight to 12 years once the FIT is implemented.

Maniego said consumers should not be disturbed by how long it would take before they can reap the benefits of RE, as this had been the country’s experience with geothermal energy.

During the time geothermal energy was being developed in the country more than four decades ago, the tariff of the technology was higher than those of fossil-fuels.

Now, geothermal is er, Maniego said, adding that the more the FIT is delayed the longer it would be to realize the benefits of RE.

Eric Usher, United Nations Environment Programme financial expert, said now is the most opportune time to entice investments in the industry because of low prices.

GlobalREReport260“[RE] manufacturing capacity has caught up and has surpassed demand; there is now over supply,” he said.

As a result, RE companies in developed nations are looking to scale up production in growing markets such as the Philippines.

“Half of investments in power generation is now on RE,” he added.#

Cover photo: Peter H. Maniego, Jr., Chairman of the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) talks about the challenges of promoting renewable energy in the Philippines during the launch of the 2102 Global Renewable Energy Report at the Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center in Pasig City. (Gigie Cruz/iCSC)

2nd photo: Renewable Energy experts answer questions from the press during the launch of the 2012 Global Renewable Energy Status Report organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) and World Resource Institute at the Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center in Ortigas, Quezon. From Left: Jasper Inventor, iCSC; Eric Usher, UNEP; Christine Lins, REN21, and Steve Sawyer from Global Wind Energy Council. (Gigie Cruz/iCSC)

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