PH adopts ‘technology neutral’ energy policy

Brunei's Minister of Energy and Industry Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin Bin Haji Umar (left) with DOE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi (center) and Prof. Hidetoshi Nishimura, president of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia at the 1st East Asia Energy Forum: "How to Supply and Use Fossil Fuel" held at Panglao Island, Bohol. (DOE photo)

THE Philippines is taking the cue from China, Japan and India when it comes to sourcing energy and Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said Wednesday other countries can try the approach called technology-neutral to meet their economic potential.

In his welcome remark to participants of the 1st East Asia Energy Forum, an associated meeting under the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) conference in Panglao, Bohol, Cusi said there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach for an ideal energy mix as every country has a different economy, geography and social needs, so both conventional and non-conventional sources must be considered.

“We’re trying to replicate this creative approach in the Philippines, by phasing out old and inefficient generation facilities, and promoting critical coal-fired plants,” said Cusi. “This, among other efficient technologies, will allow developing nations to reduce their impact on the environment and provide alternative short- to medium-term solutions to prohibitively costly new energy sources that are more suited for long-term scenarios.”

Cusi cited examples to make conventional energy sources more sustainable like refurbishing old and naturally degrading coal power plants to increase fuel efficiency and cut more than 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. He also cited China’s re-engineering of the Shanghai-Waigaqiao No. 3 Power Plant by China.

“I am optimistic that the necessary technological progress in renewable energy will one day be made,” said Cusi. “Until that day comes, conventional energy will have a role to play.”

“It is clear that conventional energy will provide the reliability, security and diversification we need to encourage socio-economic growth,” according to Cusi. “This in turn will make it more conducive for investments into more sustainable and efficient technologies. Moreover, direct competition between conventional and renewable energy will encourage rapid improvement in renewable technologies.”

Cusi said developing economies, like the Philippines, will need cost-efficient and reliable energy to meet its economic potential. The forum, he said, is a good opportunity for the ASEAN and East Asian economies to craft possible solutions to the inter-related challenges of energy security and climate change.

“I hope that everyone will actively participate in developing recommendations to strengthen our energy policy that will serve as the basis for informed decisions at all levels –whether global, regional and national. We hope to learn, but also share our experiences with you. I end by wishing you all a very productive discussion ahead and to welcome you all once again,” said Cusi.

“I must also thank the organizers for giving me the opportunity to address this distinguished gathering. This Forum, as noted, is the first of its kind and is indeed a historic occasion. Energy is obviously a key component in economic development: the latter simply cannot happen without the former,”he added.

Attending the forum were Prof. Hidetoshi Nashimura, president of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia; Minister of Energy and Industry of Brunei Darrusalam Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr.) Awang Hajimohammad Yasmin Bin Haji Umar; Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water of Malaysia Yang Berhormat Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkali; energy ministers and officials of ASEAN member states; and members of the Energy Research Institute Network, Institute of Energy Economics of Japan; National Bureau of Asian Research; resource speakers and panellists from the University of Tokyo; ASEAN Forum on Coal, Japan Coal Energy Center, International Energy Agency, Gas Exporting Countries Forum, colleagues from the DOE, and the Philippine National Oil Company.