The Department of Energy recently received the Monetary Board’s approval to proceed with the rollout of the $500-million electric tricycle (e-trike) project, hoping to put 100,000 of these vehicles on Philippine roads within five years.
Of this allocation, $300 million will come from the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, $100 million from the Philippine government, and $100 million from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF).
In a briefing Friday, Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras said the DOE would still pursue the project despite technical, financial and even social challenges, given the project’s economic and “transformational” gains.
The replacement of 100,000 gasoline-fed tricycle units with energy efficient e-trikes is expected to help reduce the transport sector’s gasoline consumption by 561,000 barrels a year, equivalent to about 260,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
The e-trike project is also expected to boost the income of tricycle drivers through savings in fuel costs and will likewise create local jobs with the establishment of manufacturing companies and associated after-sales services.
Citing these gains, Almendras denied the alleged reallocation of a $101-million loan from CTF, which was supposed to be used for a major solar generation initiative but was instead diverted to the e-trike project.
Based on a 2009 plan, a total of $125 million would be allocated for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs of the country. But in the Revised CTF Investment Plan for the Philippines, the amount was divided to $24 million for energy efficiency and $101 million for e-trikes.
“There can be no diversion of funds because the funds are not yet available back then (2009). We don’t have it yet. The loans were not approved yet—the loan will be discussed sometime in June or July during the monthly board meeting of ADB,” Almendras explained.
The energy chief also said that the e-trike project would push through with or without the CTF because the business model of the DOE and ADB was one that could work using commercial loans from local banks.
These banks, he added, are likely to fund such a project because the economic gains will be significant.
Sohail Hasnie, principal energy specialist at ADB, said that back in 2009, when the prices of solar power generation started to decline, the option for solar projects was included in the CTF plan.
The plan was to go back to CTF and present the options where the funds could be used two years after 2009, or around December 2011. By that time however, the scenario had changed, said Hasnie, who added that the DOE and ADB both found the e-trike project to be a more feasible option where CTF funding could be used.
“There was no fund allocation in 2009, in the strict sense because the funds were not yet approved or available,” Hasnie added.
Hasnie earlier said that the plan was to roll out the first 20,000 units on key islands, such as Boracay and Puerto Princesa, and in some parts of Metro Manila. After this, a study will be conducted to determine whether the use of e-trikes will work, according to the project objectives, and yield the benefits expected by the ADB and the Philippine government.
Once the initial batch proves to be successful, the ADB will then proceed with the rollout of the remaining 80,000 units, Hasnie said.
At present, more than 3.5 million motorized tricycles are operating in the country, producing more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide and using nearly $5 billion worth of imported fuel a year.