Discovering Renewable Energy Sources

Monday, July 21, 2008

I have always pondered on the solution for the energy crisis that seems to loom all over us since the oil prices have steadily swelled since february of this year, and I can't help but think is the government doing something about it? Have they thought of renewable energy sources? If so, what are the renewable energy sources they are planning to take? defines Renewable Energy as energy generated from natural resources—such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat—which are renewable (naturally replenished). Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity/micro hydro, biomass and biofuels for transportation. Market for these renewable energy sources have been steadily rising in the past few decades especially now that oil prices are steadily rising due to it's dwindling supply but constantly swelling demand. People are more wary now of the use of the ever-so-precious oil and its effects in the environment. But the question remains, what is the most effective renewable energy source for the Philippines?

The Philippines is among the few countries that lie in the so-called ring of fire and knowing this one would deduce that the answer to the question which renewable energy source would be most effective here would be Geothermal energy. The Philippines has plenty numerous active volcanoes, where the geothermal energy is harnessed. There are a lot of geothermal power plants here, in fact the Philippines is the second largest geothermal energy producer in the world, behind the US.

The country aims to double its renewable energy capacity by 2013, from 30 to 60 percent. To this end, the Philippines' Department of Energy (DOE) set the following goals:

  • 1. To be the largest geothermal energy producer in the world
  • 2. To be the leading wind energy producer in Southeast Asia
  • 3. To install 130-250 MW of biomass, solar, and ocean capacity.
  • 4. To become the solar manufacturing export hub of the Association of Southeast

This is all possible only corruption threatens this mere possibility. If only government officials and those people of power veer away from corruption we will somehow find ourselves outwinning the US as the largest geothermal energy producing country in the world.

Next is solar energy. The Philippines lying somewhat near the equator, receives a lot of sunshine and therefore is suited for solar energy plants. Solar energy can be harnessed through panels converting heat and light from the sun into electricity and also through steam that would power turbines (solar thermal). At present, our country is using solar panels, and not solar thermal.

The world's largest solar project is the Philippine National Oil Company's (PNOCs) solar home system in Luzon. In the past two years, it has been providing electricity to 2,160 households in the Cordillera, the Visayas, and remote areas in Mindanao. The PNOC's solar home system targets 15,000 households in 2007. Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, the Philippines' cleanest and greenest city, expects to complete a solar utility project that promises to be larger than PNOcs. Twenty-five thousand solar panels covering 20-hectares of land will be installed to support the city's energy supply. In Mindanao, at least four solar power projects are in progress.

Third, the Philippines has untapped wind resources. Wind-based power is a very practical way of electrifying remote and far-flung areas that are off the power grid. Studies of the World Wildlife Fund and the University of the Philippines cite 1,038 wind sites in the country with a potential capacity of 7,404 MW. Potential sites considered feasible for using wind energy include 686 sites in Luzon and 305 in Visayas. The Philippines plan to install wind-based power projects with a capacity of at least 417 MW in the next 10 years. One of these, the Bangui Bay project, will generate 25 MW.

One still unexplored area that may finally be the key to energy independence is ocean wave energy. Studies done in collaboration with Japanese scientists show that there are 16 potential areas for ocean thermal energy conversion. The Philippines may become the first to use this form of energy - using tidal and marine current to generate electricity. This has a potential of supplying the country with 170,000 MW of energy.

Fourth, the controversial and yet useful biomass fuel. The Philippines discovered alternative source of renewable energy that uses wood, straw, animal manure, rice husks, and sugar cane. Burning these agricultural wastes generates heat, steam, and energy able to operate a 30-megawatt (MW) biomass plant, which provides electricity to several towns and generates savings worth thousands of barrels of fuel oil. Coming up are two more biomass plants. UK-based Bronzeoak, which operates a Biomass plant in Talisay Batangas, plans to put in US$100 million in the next three years to expand its operations. The other is an experiment project in Isabela using rice hulls to produce biomass.The Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment and natural Resources estimates that the Philippines biomass energy will reach an equivalent of 301.5 million barrels of fuel oil in 2008. Some people disagree using biomass fuel because somehow the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages of using this kind of energy. Crop lands used for farming rice and other sources of food will be turned into lands that will cultivate plants that will provide biofuel.

It is clear that there are a lot of possibilities for the Philippines when it comes to renewable energy, it is debatable however if the mere possibilty will remain only a possibility through dirty politics, greed and corruption.

*Data from


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