Politics

AboitizPower says non-renewables needed

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ABOITIZ Power Corp. (AboitizPower) said diversifying energy sources is needed to support the increasing adoption of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, which fluctuate in availability based on natural conditions.

“Addressing VRE’s (variable renewable energy) weaknesses solely with energy storage systems can increase the system cost, hence necessitating the utilization of other generation technologies — even nonrenewables — to make up for the production fluctuations of VREs like solar and wind and provide sufficient operating reserves,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

AboitizPower Corporate Services Officer Carlos Ramon C. Aboitiz said that renewable energy should be viewed as a “part of the energy mix” and “not the lone and primary solution.”

He also said that there is a tendency to rely on an “incomplete accounting” of how VRE is appraised.

The cost of renewable energy is only captured in the levelized cost of electricity (LCoE) when the sources are available, he said. LCoE is a measure that integrates all the relevant costs of power generation in a project’s timeline, according to the Department of Energy.

A full accounting incorporates the costs of running the power grid reliably 24/7, which will consider the price of the technologies and capacities used to fill the demand gap and minimize the intermittencies of VRE, the company said.

“Often, we hear pronouncements that renewables are cheaper than their fossil fuel counterparts. And when paired with the understanding that they are also cleaner, this results in a ‘zero-downside’ conclusion that we should immediately shift from fossil fuels to renewables,” Mr. Aboitiz said. 

“[But] LCoE does not provide an apples-to-apples comparison,” he added.

Mr. Aboitiz said that balancing the priorities of energy security, affordability, and decarbonization are challenged by “the lack of economic alternatives to fossil fuels today; the expanding demand for energy; and the absence of a constructive, fact-based dialogue in supporting sustainable and equitable progress.”

Meanwhile, he said that the Philippines seems to lack the human capital and supporting capital markets for its own research and development within the country.

“We need to define the problem better because if we define the problem poorly we risk wasting a lot of capital and energy and not achieving the progress that we aspire to achieve,” Mr. Aboitiz said.

“While we act concurrently, let’s strive to, through candid and fact-based conversation, figure out what the real problem is and understand the constraints of the solutions we have today,” he added. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera