Global oil crisis prompts DOE to reassess PH RE transition

Published October 10, 2021, 8:30 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The energy crisis distressing major economies of the world has prompted the Department of Energy (DOE) to reassess its impact in the country primarily on highly probable ‘price shocks’ this may cause on the ‘energy transition to a low-carbon future’ that the government has been pushing for.

According to DOE Assistant Secretary Redentor E. Delola, one development they have been monitoring closely is the blackout-mortified energy market of China. The DOE official said this could potentially drive up solar panel costs as well as other equipment being deployed for renewables and other energy (RE) installations – including the manufacturing of battery storage.

Apart from China, other major economies in the world – including India and European countries – are also suffering from excruciating energy crunch due to radical spikes in oil, gas and coal prices.

As reported, natural gas prices are now at the equivalent $230 per barrel cost for oil, an unfavorable development to markets that have shifted to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and for positioning that resource as technology linked to renewables. The swell in gas prices is seen worsening next year.

“We are aware that with the huge energy or power demand of China, any action to mitigate the shortfall – be it renewables or other technologies of choice, will have an effect on the supply and costs not only in the Philippines, but elsewhere,” Delola said.

It is worth noting though that in the Philippines, power plant installations generally lean on technologies being sourced from China – be it for RE facilities and even other development in the gas and coal power sectors.

On that premise then, Delola emphasized that “the DOE recognizes the potential impact of China’s actions to address the ongoing power supply shortage creeping across its Eastern region.”

At this point, the DOE official indicated that the agency “remains committed to implementing its energy transition agenda.”

Nevertheless, the missing piece of the puzzle is at what costs the ‘energy transition’ may inflict further on the Filipino ratepayers. Energy officials have yet to assess that risk factor.

“We continue to monitor and enhance our plans and programs, which include increasing the share of renewables and indigenous energy resources, as well as intensifying measures to transform energy efficiency and conservation as a way of life for every Filipino,” the DOE official noted.

The Philippines, which is financially wobbled by the Covid-19 pandemic, is still racing through its economic recovery pace amid the prospect of scant power supply by next year.

The aggravating global energy crisis then may not just exacerbate blackout predicaments for the country; but it could also trigger skyrocketing electric bills for Filipino consumers.