Gov’t urged to set up community-based renewable energy program 

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 January) — Environmental group “Panalipdan! Mindanao” urged the government to show “political will” to establish a community-based renewable energy program to have a more inclusive approach in equalizing the island’s current power structure of 70-30 in favor of fossil fuels.

Dr. Jean Lindo, co-chair of Panalipdan! Mindanao, told MindaNews on Saturday that the group wants the government to do more than just enforcing a moratorium on the new applications of coal-fired powerplants to attain a sustainable supply of power in Mindanao.

Mindanao has a total of 4,000 MW installed capacity, of which between 2,700 and 2,800 MW is the available capacity.

Courtesy of MinDA

“Feeling nako kanang tokenism lang nang sulti nila nga moratorium. (I feel that the moratorium is mere tokenism) We want them to do more. Ipakita nila naa sila political will to establish community-based RE program. (They must show their political will to establish a community-based RE program). The solution should be inclusive,” Lindo said. 

She added that only the government has the economies of scale to make sustainable solutions happen.

No new application for construction of coal-fired power plants has been approved in Mindanao after the Department of Energy declared in 2020 a moratorium on endorsements for greenfield coal power plants.

Lindo added that her group, which has been opposing the establishment of coal-fired power plants in Mindanao, has long asked for a moratorium on the construction of non-renewable energy plants.

During “Wednesdays’ Habi at Kape” Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro said the government is now hoping to reverse the power mix of the island dominated by coal-fed powerplants in compliance with its obligations under the Paris Agreement.

Courtesy of MinDA

The multilateral agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016, targets to limit “global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels” as part of global efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

Under this agreement, countries “aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century.”

The Philippines signed the Paris Agreement on April 23, 2016, and it was subsequently ratified by the Senate on March 23, 2017 under the administration of then President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

According to MinDA, additional supply of about 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy can be expected between 2023 and 2028, of which 400 MW are committed applications and 1,600 MW are indicative or in the early stage of the application process.

Courtesy of MinDA

Montenegro said the agency has tracked applications for solar, hydro, biomass, and other possible sources of renewable energy on the island.

The environmental group is also wary of the plan of the local government of Davao to construct a waste-to-energy (WTE) project.

“Ang WTE dili gyud na siya sustainable energy pod (The WTE is not sustainable energy),” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)