Senator Sherwin Gatchalian today urged the government to maximize the potential of renewable energy (RE) sources in the country and step up the energy transition as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is leading to reduction in fossil fuel consumption.

gatchalian1 - Gov’t urged to boost renewable energy amid pandemic
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Now is the time to give renewable energy sources a boost as recent months have shown an increase in the generation of some power sources such as solar, geothermal, and biomass,” Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate energy committee, said.

Gatchalian said he supports the move by the Department of Energy (DOE) to impose a moratorium on coal plants. He, however, stressed that it should be accompanied by regulations encouraging the build out of flexible systems such as energy storage.

The imposition of lockdown in the country saw a drop in coal generation amid a decrease in demand as operations of industrial facilities and commercial establishments slowed.

According to market research provider S&P Global, major oil companies are diversifying into renewable and low carbon energy in response to the growing concerns over climate change.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the world’s total renewable-based power capacity to increase by 50 percent between 2019 and 2024.

Gatchalian said there is a need to initiate the energy transition by cutting the red tape, particularly for renewable energy projects. He added a mechanism is already in place that streamlines the permitting process for both foreign and domestic investors.

In a recent budget hearing at the Senate, DOE officials said that the total awarded renewable energy projects reached 1,038 in December, 2019, with an equivalent potential capacity of 31,886 megawatts (MW).

Existing RE projects based on this have an installed capacity of 5,053 MW with geothermal and hydro having the largest shares with 38 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

“The whole world is moving to energy and mobility transition so we need to keep up with the trend of generating power from renewable sources to include emerging technology such as green hydrogen,” Gatchalian said.

He also underscored the need to have a sound policy and regulatory framework for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) as the country moves toward the promotion of sustainable transportation under the new normal.

Gatchalian is the principal author of Senate Bill (SB) 1382, or the proposed Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act, which requires dedicated parking slots with charging stations in every public and private building and establishments including gasoline stations. The measure is now up for interpellation and approval on second reading in the Senate.

“Transition to new technologies will generate jobs, which we badly need right now, and attract investments for us to grow globally competitive. We are seeing bright prospects for renewable energy. It is the dawn of the new tomorrow,” he added.

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