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Aquino gov’t urged to invest in renewable services

MANILA, Philippines—Opposition lawmakers and environmentalists criticized the Aquino government on Tuesday for paying lip service to renewable energy development while approving several contracts last year for the construction of coal-fired energy plants.

In a forum on renewable energy, Akbayan party-list Repesentative Walden Bello and party spokesperson Risa Hontiveros said the government also reduced the allotment for solar energy sector from the original proposal of 150 megawatts to 50 MW. It brought down the target for wind power from the proposed 220 MW to 200 MW.

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The government’s policy right now on renewable energy seems to be “confusing,” said Hontiveros at the forum sponsored by Akbayan and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung foundation.

“Our country’s commitment to develop its renewable energy sources would be reduced to mere lip service if we continue with building new coal-fired power plants,” she said. She warned of the environmental damage and higher incidence of respiratory illnesses from coal power plants.

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“Non-renewable energy is still more expensive because the financial costs of health and environmental damage are rarely computed with the cost of constructing a coal-fired power plant,” Bello added.

Dr. Joachim Spangeren of Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, a guest speaker at the forum, noted that the Philippines has an abundance of renewable energy sources—solar, wind, tides, geothermal, and biomass, among others.

“As far as we can see, you have a broad mix, many possibilities,” he said, adding Spangeren said wave energy could be used in the northern Philippines. Communities in the coasts and mountains could harness wind energy. Solar power, he said, could be harvested in many parts of the country.

Last year, the Department of Energy said it hopes to increase renewable energy-based sources of power from 26.3 percent (at the end of 2010) to 50 percent.

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TAGS: Energy, Government, Philippines, renewable energy
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