Speech of President Aquino at the Renewable Energy Conference and Expo Manila

Speech
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the Renewable Energy Conference and Expo Manila
[December 2, 2010, Dusit Thani, Manila]
First of all, I would like to commend the members of the Renewable Energy Coalition and their partners for putting in the hours to stage this conference. Your laudable efforts have surely made this event possible, and it is also an honor to be here today in the presence of many great leaders. Their genuine support furthers our optimism in our initiatives toward renewable energy in the country. The key to success in any venture is efficient cooperation, and seeing all of you here reassures us that the government and the private sector have a mutual interest in pursuing sustainable access to, and the use of, renewable energy in the country.

We believe that energy is central to sustainable development. The lack of access to modern energy services is a drawback to economic and social development. Providing energy to households is vital to meeting the millennium development goals. Without energy, government is hampered from delivering services for basic human needs such as clean water, health, shelter, and education.
However, providing solutions to our country’s myriad needs requires, first and foremost, an assessment of our limitations and problems. The country’s power situation is at a critical juncture. With increasing power demand, retirement of several plants, and absence of investments in new energy infrastructure over the past years, the amount of available power supply becomes increasingly unreliable. Even climate change impacts on the energy sector have not been forgiving as we have seen in Mindanao. In the south where at least 53% of its electricity is sourced from hydro resources, the vulnerability of the power sector is greatly exposed. The recently launched Simbulan Hydroelectric Power Plant in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, developed by Aboitiz, is a clear indication of the private sector’s urgent response to our call to address the power situation by maximizing renewable power resources.
We do recognize these problems and we are committed to act on them. That is why there is no more opportune time to hold this conference than today. The development of our country’s renewable energy remains our collective objective.
There are vast renewable sources of energy in the country, among them geothermal, hydropower, biomass, solar, and wind. In fact, we trail only the United States as the largest supplier of geothermal energy in the world.
Our other sources are by no means meager. More than 10% of the country’s electricity requirement is supplied by hydropower generation. Moreover, biomass, solar, and wind energy will be among our major sources of energy for the next decade, and we expect that they will account for more than a third of the country’s total energy demand.
We were able to increase the utilization of renewable energy sources, resulting in a Philippines less dependent on imported and polluting fuels. We continue to feel the benefits of this increase, as the country is saving huge amounts in foreign exchange. The challenge before us is to more aggressively pursue the benefits from increasing the percentage of energy from renewable sources.
As I have said, the natural potential bestowed upon our country is impressive, but there is work to be done so that these resources can be harnessed well. The necessary infrastructure should be established in compliance with our laws to benefit as many Filipinos as possible.
In 2008, the government enacted Republic Act No. 9513, which increased power demands and drove home the need to balance the goals of economic growth and development with the protection of the environment.
The law also paved the way for the aggressive exploration, development, and utilization of the country’s indigenous renewable energy resources. Through this, RA 9513 encourages more private participation among renewable energy developers through the provision of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.
Furthermore, RA 9513 provided a tapestry of market stimulants that, to this day, continue to boost renewable energy development in the country through the prescription of market-based policy instruments. These include a Renewable Portfolio Standard, the Feed-in Tariff, Net Meeting, green energy option, as well as the establishment of a Renewable Energy Market. These policy instruments will help spur growth in the sector during their respective implementation phases. The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has adopted the feed-in-tariff rules which is an incentive mechanism intended to accelerate the exploration and development of renewable energy resources. This will offer guaranteed payments over a definite period of time to developers utilizing renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, run-of-river-hydro, biomass, and the ocean.
The effect of the passage of this bill has been clear. As of March 2010, a total of 205 renewable energy contracts have already been awarded to renewable energy developers. Thirty-three of these contracts are already operating, nine are being developed, and 163 are in the pre-development stage. We will not stop working until the operation of all these projects is ensured. We will continue making opportunities for similar renewable energy projects that will ultimately pay more dividends to the Filipino people.
The National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) was instituted by the government to achieve a 100%-increase in renewable energy capacity within 20 years. It also aims to increase the non-power contribution of renewable energy to the energy mix equivalent to 10 million barrels of fuel oil in the next 10 years.
At the end of the day, however, the NREP has three main objectives: for the Philippines to become the number one geothermal energy producer in the world, to double the country’s hydropower capacity, and to expand the respective contributions of biomass, solar, and ocean energy to the energy mix.
Rest assured, the initiatives of our administration are consistent with these three goals. We are committed to a vision of the future where our environment is both protected and its potential harnessed at the same time. The public-private partnerships that we have actively sought out, for example, will allow us to turn these plans into reality. The bills we have passed and the efforts of each of us here today have all been for the benefit of our people. We will not let your sacrifices go to waste; we will not allow your hard work to be taken for granted. There will be results. This we will make sure of, so that the people in this sector, present here today or not, may be invigorated in their profession, and may renew their own energies in working for the Filipino people.
While we are scaling up the development of these renewable energy initiatives, there are also economic factors that we need to consider. We envision the development of the country’s renewable energy resources as a way of diversifying the country’s power generation fleet with the ultimate view of providing energy security and clean energy for our consumers. Since much of our renewable energy resources are located outside of urban centers, we shall strive to maximize its development and use it as a tool to expand development opportunities in rural areas. With the help of private sector and funding institutions, we shall endeavor to bring renewable energy to our most isolated communities.
This shift in energy sources is a difficult task to do alone. We need your help. The efforts of everyone toward the fulfillment of the program will be the key in lifting our countrymen out of the dark. I look forward to working closely with the private sector in pursuing the implementation of existing energy conservation programs, in addressing potential issues and concerns, and in rationalizing energy demand consumption. We are listening to your concerns, and we will attend to them. We are here to work together and not against each other. We will give you incentives and guarantees as needed, within a framework that takes into consideration our mutual desire for a win-win solution for all parties.
The sustainable access and use of renewable energy is a vital cornerstone of the country’s overarching agenda to crown the hard work and commitment of our people to change, with successes that tangibly improve our lives. Our commitment to achieving this will never waver. Together, we can prove that the mutually beneficial goals of responsible environmental management and economic development are achievable in the here and now. The darkness that has engulfed this great nation has been driven away by the righteous hand of democracy: a moral force that has swept the path clean, allowing us to embark on a path of success. Our ultimate success will be that the right policies pursued in the right manner, will lead to a flourishing economy and a people increasingly self-assured in their growth and development. We can build—and build, and build—in the full light of day, so long as we all maintain the optimism and tenacity to seize and ride this wave of momentum driven by honesty, efficiency, and unmatched potential in the renewable energy sector.
I have the fullest confidence in our people and in you—that we can be partners for progress, and partners in proving that success comes to those who do the right things for the right reasons.
Thank you and good day.