An important book on the Energy Transition to Renewable Electricity

100% renewable electricity is not just a dream anymore

* Book: Crossing Over: Making the Energy Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Electricity. Roberto Verzola. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2015 (free download available)

The author, Roberto Verzola, writes:

Much of the book’s contents are specific to the Philippines, where rooftop solar electricity became cheaper than grid-delivered coal-based electricity sometime in 2013. However, a number of insights are useful to other countries“.

In particular, I present in the book a strong argument for net metering. I explain why another approach, usually called net billing, which pays grid-connected solar rooftop owner only the generation charge (roughly one-half of the retail price), is actually double-charging.”

An excerpts from the foreword:

“Energy is undeniably one of the most important requirements for development. It is in fact a development enabler upon which rely different industries and social services. Unfortunately, around 16 million Filipinos are energy poor.

The continuously increasing price of electricity is another issue that the Filipino people have to contend with. To date, the Philippines has the highest electricity rate in Asia. With the country largely dependent on imported oils, it is imperative that other energy sources be looked into.

Renewable energy is finding its way to the center of the debates on sustained, efficient and clean energy sources. The Energiewende framework of Germany which defines the country’s transition to renewable energy demonstrates how the convergence of policies, technologies, resources and citizen participation can transform the course of how energy is harnessed and utilized.

The Philippines boasts of much renewable energy potentials. At present, 30% of Philippine energy comes from renewable sources as the country is the second largest generator of geothermal energy in the world and the first to invest in large-scale solar and wind technologies in Southeast Asia. Harnessing and development of this abundance may yet help break the chains from imported oil dependency and lead the country to a more sustained growth. This area of the energy industry still has much to be optimized.

For the past years, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung has been working in the Philippines with local partners, providing platforms for coming up with comprehensive strategies to implement more viable and sustainable energy source alternatives. It is in this light that the Study on the Energy Transition to Renewable Electricity was drafted. The book hopes to provide policy makers and implementers, advocates and activists, academe, industry actors, and the consumers with honest assessments of the Philippines’ energy issues and potentials and identify ways to move forward from the country’s energy dilemmas.”

From the Preface:

“Many studies on renewable energy (RE) in the Philippines have already been done. This particular study on RE is focused on strategies that can lead to a full transition of electricity generation in the country from non-renewable to renewable energy.

This study paints in broad strokes a picture of the RE situation in the country’s electricity sector. It includes enough highlights to give potential adopters and investors a sense of the terrain in terms of the physical, economic and institutional contexts within which they would be working.

This study also provides some criteria that can help local officials assess their locality’s endowments in renewable electricity generation. If they find that they are well-endowed, and they are interested in hosting or setting up themselves an RE showcase in their area, then they should take immediate steps towards making a more thorough assessment of the technical and financial feasibility of such a showcase.

The specific goal of this study is to map out a process that will lead to at least one locality—or hopefully several—becoming a showcase for 100% renewable electricity in the Philippines.

Showcasing RE in some localities, it must be emphasized, is a strategy, not an end-goal. The goal is a nationwide shift to RE. Not overnight, of course, but as quickly as we can realistically make it. The goal above is inspired by the experience of the village of Feldheim in Germany. In this village, 100% of the power for heating and electricity are sourced from renewable sources. The residents benefit from local electricity rates that are lower than the rates charged by the grid—and the village gets additional income from selling its excess electricity production to the grid!

The Feldheim model was of course made possible by a confluence of events and conditions specific to Germany, not all of which can be readily replicated in the Philippines.

Through this and follow-up studies, we want to identify events and conditions and to set into motion the processes that can lead to Feldheim-type showcases in the Philippines: 100% renewable, lower local rates and financially viable.

Lest someone claim that 100% renewable is a pipe dream, the table below lists studies that have been done in some developed economies to confirm the possibility of a fully renewable future in their own country.

The list shows that other countries are thinking of the same thing.

In fact, two countries have passed laws mandating 100% renewable electricity: by 2020 for Scotland, and by 2035 for Denmark.

And it has been a reality in at least one country since 2011. Iceland gets its electricity from hydroelectric (75%) and geothermal (25%) sources only.

No fossil fuels, no nuclear plants.

For these countries, 100% renewable electricity is not just a dream anymore.”

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