Renewable Energy Act for Energy Self-Sufficiency and Harmful Emission Reduction
Albert P. Aquino and Christian L. Abeleda
Energy sector is the leading emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the Philippines (REECS, 2010). In 2000, there is a leap of 39% from 1994 emission record of 50,038 CO2e Gigagrams on this sector. Emissions mostly come from the combustion of imported fuels and other activities related to the production of energy, such as coal mining, oil and gas exploration, production and processing (EMB, 2011).
Republic Act No. 9513 or the ‘Renewable Energy Act of 2008’ was codified in December 2008 to affirm the government’s commitment to accelerate the utilization of renewable energy (RE) resources in the country. This is to effectively reduce harmful emissions and achieve economic development while protecting health and environment. Renewable energy is an essential part of the country’s low emission development strategy and is vital to addressing challenges of climate change, energy security, and access to energy.
Under this law, the State is mandated to accelerate exploration and development of RE resources to achieve energy self-reliance; increase utilization of RE by institutionalizing the development of national and local capabilities; encourage the development and utilization of RE resources as tools to effectively prevent or reduce harmful emissions; and establish necessary infrastructure and mechanisms to carry out the stipulated mandates in the Act. The law suggests RE resources that could be alternatively utilized such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal and ocean energy.
Renewable energy policy mechanisms
RE development is encouraged on both on-grid and off-grid system. In an on-grid system, several policy mechanisms were promoted which include Renewable Portfolio Standard, Feed-in-Tariff System, Net-Metering for RE, Green Energy Option, among others. In an off-grid system, concerned parties were mandated to source a minimum percentage of its total annual generation from RE resources in the area concerned.
Incentives and privileges for renewable energy development
Incentives and privileges were stipulated for RE development initiatives. Incentives are provided to RE projects and programs; hybrid and co-generation system; RE commercialization; and farmers engaged in the plantation of biomass resources. To avail these incentives and privileges, it is encouraged that parties be registered and accredited by Department of Energy and Board of Investments.
For all the entities involved in RE development, fiscal incentives include, among others, tax exemption for importation of inputs, components, parts, and materials and income tax holidays. Other incentives and privileges stipulated include tax rebate for purchase of RE components; financial assistance program; exemption from the universal charge or charge imposed for the recovery of the stranded cost; cash incentive of RE developers for missionary electrification; payment of transmission charges; and priority and must dispatch for intermittent RE resource.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is mandated to lead the implementation of the Act. As the lead agency, DOE is mandated, among others, to perform necessary actions for the execution of enumerated RE policy mechanisms and formulate and to implement National Renewable Energy Program or NREP.
Also, embodied in the Act are the creations of National Renewable Energy Board or NREB (Section 27 of the Act) and Renewable Energy Management Bureau or REMB (Section 32 of the Act). NREB act as a collegial body tasked to recommend policies to DOE and monitor the implementation of the Act. In addition, the Board recommends specific actions to support the activities of DOE especially the NREP. REMB, on the other hand, is in the forefront of effective implementation of the provisions of the Act. As such, the Bureau developed and formulated NREP to accelerate the development, utilization, and commercialization of RE resources and technologies, among others.
National renewable energy program
National Renewable Energy program or NREP, launched on June 2011, outlines the policy framework enshrined in RA 9513. It sets the strategic building blocks that will help the country achieve the goals set forth in the Renewable Energy Act. It indicated interim targets for the delivery of energy sources within the timeframe of 2011 and 2030. In principle, it provided the basis for national and local renewable energy planning that will identify specific actions and period upon which outcomes will be generated.
The Program ultimately seeks to increase RE-based capacity to an estimated 15,304.3 Megawatt (MW) by year 2030, almost triple the 2010 level of 5,438 MW (Table 1). This sum is a consolidation of targets on each individual sectoral sub-programs namely: geothermal, hydropower, biomass, wind, solar, and ocean.
Each sectoral sub-programs follows a roadmap that indicates milestones targeted over a covered period. The realization of these targets depends on the implementation of several activities that include: (a) RE industry services; (b) RE resource development; (c) RE research, development and demonstration; and (d) RE technology support.
The government has the share on the proceeds derived by RE Developers which is equal, in general, to one percent (1%) of the RE developers gross income (except indigenous geothermal energy which is 1.5% of their gross income). No government share is collected from proceeds of Biomass resources development and of micro-scale projects for communal purpose and non-commercial operations which are not greater than one hundred kilowatts. The accumulated government share will be distributed to national and local government by 60% and 40% respectively.
Renewable energy trust fund
Renewable Energy Trust Fund or RETF was established, in pursuant to Section 28 of the Act, to enhance the development and greater utilization of RE. The fund is utilized through grants, loans, equity investments, counterpart fund or such other financial arrangements necessary for the attainment of the activities stipulated in the Act. The fund is used to, among others, finance research and development works engaged in RE and support the operation or RE resources to improve their competitiveness in the market. The RETF is mostly funded from fees and penalties collected and net annual income of Philippine owned and controlled corporation.
Energy sector is one among the contributors of GHGs in the country. Through the enactment of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, it is hoped that energy self-sufficiency will be achieved and dependence on GHG emitter energy sources will be reduced. With the policy mechanisms laid down, incentives and privileges stipulated, regulatory framework established, financial support appropriated, among others, acceleration of utilization of RE resources and participation from stakeholders, more importantly from the private sectors, are expected.
Resources, Environment and Economics Center for Studies (REECS), Inc. (2010). National Environmental, Economic and Development Study (NEEDS) for Climate Change. Retrieved on March 24, 2014: http://unfccc.int/files/adaptation/application/pdf/philippinesneeds.pdf
Implementing Rules and Regulations. Republic Act No. 9513. An Act Promoting the Development, Utilization and Commercialization of Renewable Energy Resources and for other purposes. Accessed on March 24, 2014: http://www.cenergy.ph/downloads/IRR_RA9513.pdf
Environmental Management Bureau – DENR. (2011). Tracking greenhouse Gases: An Inventory Manual. A manual published under the Philippines: Enabling Activities for the Preparation of the Second National Communication on Climate Change to the UNFCCC. Retrieved on March 24, 2014: http://www.emb.gov.ph/portal/Portals/54/GHG%20Manual%20(1).pdf
Solar panels collect clean renewable energy in the form of sunlight and convert that light into electricity which can then be used to provide power for electrical loads. Solar panels are comprised of several individual solar cells which are themselves composed of layers of silicon, phosphorous (which provides the negative charge), and boron (which provides the positive charge). Solar panels absorb the photons and in doing so initiate an electric current. The resulting energy generated from photons striking the surface of the solar panel allows electrons to be knocked out of their atomic orbits and released into the electric field generated by the solar cells which then pull these free electrons into a directional current. This entire process is known as the Photovoltaic Effect. An average home has more than enough roof area for the necessary number of solar panels to produce enough solar electricrity to supply all of its power needs excess electricity generated goes onto the main power grid, paying off in electricity use at night.
In a well-balanced grid-connected configuration, a solar array generates power during the day that is then used in the home at night. Net metering programs allow solar generator owners to get paid if their system produces more power than what is needed in the home. In off-grid solar applications, a battery bank, charge controller, and in most cases, an inverter are necessary components. The solar array sends direct current (DC) electricity through the charge controller to the battery bank. The power is then drawn from the battery bank to the inverter, which converts the DC current into alternating current (AC) that can be used for non-DC appliances. Assisted by an inverter, solar panel arrays can be sized to meet the most demanding electrical load requirements. The AC current can be used to power loads in homes or commercial buildings, recreational vehicles and boats, remote cabins, cottages, or homes, remote traffic controls, telecommunications equipment, oil and gas flow monitoring, RTU, SCADA, and much more.