FUELING THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN ECONOMIC GROWTH ENGINE - THE CASE FOR A MULTIDIMENSIONAL, SUSTAINABLE AND INCLUSIVE ENERGY STRATEGY
Over the last decade, Southeast Asian countries have rapidly become one of the world’s main economic growth engines. Ranking among the “brightest economic stars” in Asia with an annual growth rate superior to 6% in 2015, the Philippines has been embodying the great economic performance of the region. And despite the current Asian economic slowdown, the Philippine economy remains one of the fastest-growing and best-performing economy globally.
Underpinned by this rapid economic growth, energy consumption in the region has risen dramatically. Energy demand in Southeast Asia thus doubled in the last 25 years. Oil imports are likewise expected to double by 2040. This heavy dependence on energy imports makes the region vulnerable to any supply disruptions and energy price fluctuations, therefore highlighting the need for the implementation of a comprehensive energy security strategy.
Address Energy Security Challenges
To that extent, the Philippines has been taking steps to ensure supply security. Sound policies for a balanced energy mix and ambitious measures aim to promote the development and use of renewable energy sources. There policies geared towards ensuring the country’s energy security.
In 2012, the Philippines’ total primary energy consumption reached 1.307 quadrillion BTUs with oil constituting 41% of total consumption, coal made up for 22%, biomass for 19%, and the remaining 18% came from natural gas and other renewable sources.
In recent years, the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) and “feed-in tariffs” from the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 have been aggressively implemented to stimulate renewable energy participants; and sustainable development while reducing our carbon footprint. Yet, more needs to be done.
Implement a Three-Pronged Strategy
Consequently, the Philippine government has been taking resolute action towards the implementation of a comprehensive, sustainable and inclusive three-pronged strategy to address these challenges. The government is determined to strengthen national energy production and energy efficiency, through the increased share of renewable energy installations; therefore, paving the way for a low-carbon economy igniting the growth and leverage development.
Reinforcing energy infrastructures through the development of regional energy plans is also a top priority. With the passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act in 2001, the power sector reform has been strengthened and attracted private energy developers to invest in the energy sector. The Philippines is expected to see a dramatic increase in its generation capacity from 16 GW in 2011 to 29 GW in 2030. The government is also expanding the country’s grid to interconnect all major islands. These are all aimed at achieving universal access to modern electricity services with a target of 90% household electrification by 2017. The government continues to attract investments in the exploration of petroleum and coal, through its Philippine Energy Contracting Round program, to increase production of conventional indigenous energy resources.
The Philippines – the world’s second-largest geothermal power producer – is also showing strong resolve to transition to a low carbon economy, aiming to triple the installed renewable capacity to 15 GW by 2030. In a significant move to promote energy efficiency, the government has set a target that 30% of all public vehicles nationwide to run on cleaner alternative fuels by 2030, in a move to help cutting-edge energy efficiency technologies flourish.
At the regional level, the Philippines – which in October 2015 hosted the 12th APEC Energy Ministerial Meeting – remains strongly committed to actively contribute to the building of a resilient, disaster-proof and dense APEC energy network able to ensure mutually beneficial energy security.
Finally, the Philippines gears up as it co-chairs the APEC Taskforce on Energy Resiliency with the United States, which will pave the way for high level discussions towards achieving stronger and sustainable growth for APEC economies. With all the policies and initiatives being laid out, the Philippines is determined to spearhead the efforts to ensure energy security not only for itself but for the whole region.
(Published January 18, 2016)