Prioritizing renewable resources and energy independence
MINDANAO, with the Davao Region spearheading the way, is poised to become the energy hub of the Philippines as the country takes strides to transition to less carbon emissions and more renewable sources of energy in its power supply grid.
This was the conclusion in the recently-held webinar, “Mindanao as the Energy Hub in the Country, Davao Region as the Corridor,” which was organized by the Davao Investment Conference (Davao ICon 2021) as part of its year-long Innovation Series.
During the webinar hosted and moderated by John Carlo Tria, President of Mapalad Energy Generating Corporation and Vice President for Trade and Commerce, a collection of leaders and experts from the energy and environment sectors convened for an insightful panel discussion on the potential of Mindanao as a hub that can supply the energy needs of the entire Philippines.
Davao ICon 2021 Chairperson Ricardo Lagdameo opened the webinar with pride for the investment opportunities present in the Davao region. He said, “Investments in the Davao Region have become so robust and diverse over the years. Sectors from agri-business, manufacturing, tourism, real estate, and more have received much attention from both Filipino and foreign investors. This has helped the region post consistently strong GRDP growth for the last decade.”
Anton Perdices, Chief Operating Officer of Distribution Utilities at Aboitiz Power, highlighted the vast resources available in Mindanao that prime it to become a key source of renewable and sustainable energy for the country: “All the resources in the region combined together really does give the advantage to Mindanao, to be able to lead the forefront for investments, and the power will follow with that. We have plenty of supply currently in Mindanao to support the growth in the industries.”
In her welcoming address, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Dr. Maria Lourdes G. Monteverde indicated how the Davao Investment Conference slated for November this year can realize this vision. She said that the event will provide “a great avenue for the business sector to come together and discuss issues that will immensely benefit the local economy. The Davao Chamber has embarked, amidst the challenges of the time, to bring a world-class international conference that will focus on the sectors of real estate, manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism.”
In response to a question about the shifting of the Philippine energy mix to one that is more sustainable, Rolando “Don” Joson Paulino Jr., President of the Philippine Energy Independence Council (PEIC), explained the importance of considering the intermittent quality of renewable power sources. Aside from battery energy storage systems, he mentioned, “We need to transition in a more evolutionary way. If we want to really go for a renewable business in the future, we also need to be ready with powerplants that can come in whenever these renewable sources are not available.”
John Eric Francia, President and CEO of AC Energy Corporation, shared the potential of Mindanao as a net exporter of energy through the development of a more interconnected grid, especially as the Green Energy Option launches in Luzon and Visayas. He said, “Once you unlock that potential through the spot market, retail competition, and open access, then it will spur a lot of renewable opportunities.”
Dr. Antonio Gabriel La Viña, Energy Collaboratory Director of the Manila Observatory, explained why the shift towards renewable energy is crucial sooner, rather than later, to meet the nation’s commitment in addressing climate change. “The Philippines has voluntarily committed to a 75% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, meaning we can no longer increase emissions by 2030. We need to have a very fast transition.”
ASec. Romeo Montenegro, Deputy Executive Director of the Mindanao Development Authority, raised the significance of shifting from merely diversifying energy sources to prioritizing the goal of a 50% renewable energy mix by 2030. He said, “Transition to renewable energy is policy-driven. We are encouraged to see the mix of resource persons today representing the diverse sectors that provide the complete picture of where this messaging should move forward, in terms of understanding the challenges of looking at eventually the transition of Mindanao’s energy mix to renewable energy.”
Jaime Bacud, Vice President for Upstream Operations of Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corporation, focused on how relying on natural gas and oil is still part and parcel of the energy transition discussion while sharing the potential of natural gas reserves in Mindanao. “We have plenty of untapped resources in the Philippines, with 3 sedimentary basins in Mindanao: one in Agusan, one in Cotabato, and one in the Sulu Sea,” he shared. “It could be where we can find the next Malampaya. This can be our way forward to energy independence and using indigenous energy sources as part of our energy plan.”
Engr. Rodger S. Velasco, President & Chief Operating Officer of Davao Light & Power Company, recognized the need for investments in the Davao region as major industries continue to expand and develop in the area. “I see the potential in investing in Davao for manufacturing,” he said. “We have a number of huge energy-intensive customers looking to invest and build plants in the region. Davao is proving to be a very good area to invest in for energy.”
Closing the webinar with a reminder of the upcoming investment conference was Davao ICon 2021 Co-Chairperson Nicole Bian-Ledesma. She said, “The construction of new energy infrastructure will definitely open doors to a wealth of industries and investment opportunities, particularly in tourism, real estate, agribusiness, and manufacturing, which are the focused areas of this year’s upcoming Davao Investment Conference on November 11 and 12 as organized by the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry.”
The Innovation Series continues with two more webinars that tackle the Mindanao market and the future of logistics. To stay updated and find out how you can join these upcoming events, follow the Davao ICon FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/davaochamber.