Greenpeace challenged President Benigno Aquino III to demonstrate real leadership and political integrity at the upcoming Mindanao Energy Summit by championing clean and renewable energy solutions for the region, instead of anchoring the island’s energy future on dirty coal power.
The environment group made the call as it questioned the DOE’s coal-dependent energy prescription for Mindanao, which it said has the twin effect of extinguishing the island’s robust renewable energy potential and condemning local host communities to a future of dangerous and toxic emissions.
“The Mindanao power crisis is a test of President Aquino’s leadership and integrity. There is more than enough renewable energy potential in Mindanao to address the region’s current and future needs. Moreover, the enabling policy that was meant to achieve that vision is already in place. It would thus be a massive failure of leadership on his part if he chooses to endorse harmful coal projects in the face of such clean, viable and sustainable alternatives,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“Before he assumed the presidency, P’noy declared that he was for the phase-out of coal power and that the country must make the serious shift towards clean energy sources. Last year, he counted among his achievements the National Renewable Energy Plan, his vision of how RE will ‘rebuild the nation. We sincerely hope that he goes beyond mere rhetoric by translating his clean energy vision into reality. That to us is real leadership,” he added.
Greenpeace contests that the current energy plans of the DOE for Mindanao are designed to promote the uptake of coal power. The upcoming Mindanao summit, purportedly intended to convene stakeholders towards the attainment of lasting and sustainable solutions to the island’s power woes, has been preempted by the hasty approval of coal power plants whose local acceptability continues to be contested by host communities. Five more coal projects are being lined up in the next few years, which Greenpeace says will effectively edge out renewable energy options for Mindanao.
The National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), launched last year by the Department of Energy, shows how Mindanao is sitting on a ‘gold mine’ of renewable energy resources that have yet to be tapped. The NREP itself pegs geothermal potential at 290 MW, plus a current capacity of 103 MW, and 50 MW worth of approved projects projected to be online by 2014. Current hydropower capacity is at 1080 MW, with 1263.9 MW pegged as targeted additional capacity. Wind potential is pegged at 336 MW, biomass with 36.8 MW waiting to be implemented, and solar power estimated at 5 KW hours per square meter. With additional resource mapping these potentials could be even higher.
Greenpeace maintains that the rapid development of such energy sources should be enough to meet the island’s current energy shortfall and provide for its future needs. The deployment of these solutions, however, is being stymied by delays in the implementation of the RE law, specifically the approval of the feed-in-tariff (FIT) regime for RE projects, and by the aggressive campaign against RE being waged by pro-coal interests.
Coal plants would lock the people of Mindanao into at least three decades of reliance on dirty and polluting fossil fuel, whose costs are expected to escalate in the future. The group further warns that the approval of these projects are being carried out without a balanced and comprehensive examination of how renewable energy can similarly and more safely address the island’s power needs.
Speaking on behalf of host communities in Zamboanga, Barangay Chairperson Josephine Pareja reminded the President of his promise: “P-Noy said that he will allow Mindanaons to decide what sort of power we want. Well, we don’t want coal, we want a clean energy future for Mindanao.”
For his part, Juland Suaso of Panalipdan, a broad alliance of environmentalists and peoples’ organizations in Southern Mindanao, said that "coal is not cheap.” The costs of electricity from coal will likely go up in the future and such increases will also likely be passed on to the consumer. This past year, power rates have already gone up due to the escalating price of fossil fuels. Why add this burden to the future of already suffering Mindanaons when we have vast renewable energy resources that can be tapped and are not affected by price volatility?”
Greenpeace has been proposing an Energy [R]evolution scenario for the Philippines, where a massive shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency measures would wean the country away from the rising costs of fossil fuels. In this scenario, the Mindanao grid could be powered by as much as 57.16% from renewable energy if measures are quickly implemented, rising to as much as 77.34% by 2020.
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.
- Von Hernandez, Executive Director, +639175263050, (632) 3321807 loc 118,
- JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +639176312750, (632) 3321807 loc 109,
- Copy of the Philippine Energy Roadmap can be downloaded on this link: