Aboitiz group opens Cleanergy center
Education figures prominently in the foundation work of the Aboitiz group.
Aboitiz Foundation already allocates about half of its annual budget for projects that enhance the public education system, and individual companies under the Aboitiz group have their own programs which have education as the primary thrust.
AP Renewables Inc. (APRI), for one, has opened to the public late last month its P50-million Cleanergy Center—an educational facility located within the MakBan geothermal power plant compound in Barangay Bitin, Bay, Laguna.
Erramon I. Aboitiz, president and CEO of APRI’s parent firm Aboitiz Power Corp. (APC), said during the inauguration ceremony in Laguna, that the educational facility is expected to increase Filipinos’ awareness on the importance of renewable energy and encourage them to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
The center, said to be the first of its kind to be put up by the company, was named after “Cleanergy,” the Aboitiz group’s brand of clean and renewable energy.
Even Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla lauded the move, as he noted that the Cleanergy Center is a “start” to informing the public more about the energy sector.
“People complain about electricity prices, but they don’t understand how it’s being generated and the cost that go [with producing power]. Through this [Cleanergy Center], you can help educate more people,” Petilla said.
This kind of education will be critical, the energy chief added, as more players will need to put up power plants in strategic locations across the country. As it is, the Philippines will need 1,000 megawatts of new capacity every year over the next five years to sustain the country’s energy requirements.
This early, the energy chief had already called for the construction of more facilities similar to Cleanergy Center. But Aboitiz candidly admitted that there are no plans yet to replicate the project in other areas where they operate.
“There are no plans yet, but this is something to look into. We would want to increase awareness and educate people so they would understand,” Aboitiz explained.
Before the Cleanergy Center was put up, there was an old science museum near the Makban geothermal facility, which was then being managed by state-run National Power Corp. The museum was already a popular field trip destination for engineering and science students, and had hosted a total of 6,000 visitors before APRI decided to modernize the whole facility.
It was only in 2009 that the Tiwi-Makban facilities were turned over to APRI, after it won a bidding held by the government in 2008.
Following the modernization of the old science museum, the Cleanergy Center is now focusing on energy education through the use of audio visual presentations, interactive displays and a tour of a working geothermal power plant.
The 650-square-meter interior of the Cleanergy Center features “tools of the trade” or the basic tools used by experts for power generation; educational displays and videos showing the different types of energy sources, whether renewable or nonrenewable energy (traditional fossil fuels) and their respective roles in people’s daily lives. There is also a large room with fully interactive exhibits showing the process of power generation for different types of renewable energy, such as wind and hydro resource. Big machines from various Aboitiz Power’s energy facilities have also been brought in for students to appreciate.
A section of the center contains a display chronicling the evolution of the Aboitiz company since the late 1800s dubbed “Aboitiz through the Years.” There is also a tribute exhibit to Ernesto R. Aboitiz, the man who had relentlessly pursued clean and renewable energy generation.
The center also boasts of a 50-seat amphitheater, VIP lounge room, viewing deck and audiovisual room.
The Cleanergy Center is open to the public for free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday except weekends. Guided tours to the center and to the geothermal power plant may be arranged, but prior bookings are needed before anyone can visit the center. Bookings can be arranged via Facebook at www.facebook.com/cleanergycenter.
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