Developing countries need to find a way to support robust economic growth and, at the same time, maintain the resiliency of their electrical grids. In the Philippines, a variety of policy, technical, and financial barriers to clean energy usage, as well as a sustained increase of petroleum consumption in the transport sector have made this island nation a good example of the coordinated strategies that must be implemented in the face of increased energy usage and fossil fuel consumption.
We have been working with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on a project called B-LEADERS: Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resilience and Sustainability. The project’s goal is to increase the resiliency of the electrical grid to the environmental stresses of economic growth and establish a working model for the use of renewable energy resources—essentially, to decouple economic growth in the Philippines from increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Facilitating Investment in Clean Energy
We have developed a virtual data-management system called EVOSS (Energy Virtual One Shared System) that promotes transparency, streamlines business procedures, and cuts down transaction costs in the utilization of clean energy resources. By facilitating healthy interaction between renewable energy developers, financial institutions, and the local communities that benefit from these investments, B-LEADERS has helped to minimize barriers to entry in the Philippines’ clean-energy sector.
For example, thanks largely to B-LEADERS, the shopping malls in Iloilo City now have rooftop solar panels installed. Previously, equipping a building with solar panels required the permission of at least five and as many as 10 federal and local regulatory agencies; the same can now be accomplished with a single sign-off by a government official.
Leveraging the Power of Philippine Stakeholders
We have partnered with the Department of Energy of the Republic of the Philippines in an outreach program called E-POWER-MO! Via radio, television, social media, and neighborhood associations, as well as local events like beauty pageants, Philippine citizens are informed about the basics of energy conservation and renewable energy resources. E-POWER-MO! reaches virtually all of the Philippines’ 100 million–plus citizens and has demonstrably increased awareness of the need for energy conservation.
In our most recent initiative, we worked with the U.S. Pacific Command to equip selected distribution utilities in the Philippines with smart technology, bringing them into compliance with the energy-resilience policy of the Philippine government. This technology facilitates real-time monitoring of power supplies, allowing operations personnel to respond promptly to,and often prevent, disruptive fluctuations in the power grid.
Developing a Greenhouse Gas Inventory
One of the key B-LEADERS initiatives has been to institutionalize the Philippines’ greenhouse gas inventory—the data set that shows how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are produced by different sectors of the Philippine economy (e.g., industry, agriculture, transportation). By improving the transparency, consistency, accessibility, comparability, and comprehensiveness of this inventory, we have been able to translate national policies into concrete and sustained energy-saving activities at the local government level.
Creating a Model for Future Climate Change Strategies
By any measure, B-LEADERS has been a success. By the end of September 2017, we facilitated 214 megawatts of clean-energy investment in the Philippine economy valued at more than $500 million, exceeding our mandated goal. In addition, approximately 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent have been reduced, sequestered, or avoided, and more than 20 laws, policies, and regulations concerning renewable energy resources have been revised, amended, or adopted by the Philippine government.
The policies and platforms developed by B-LEADERS—including the EVOSS data set—potentially can be used to mitigate the effects of economic growth and increased energy usage in other developing countries. It is our hope that this model will be widely adopted within the next few years to produce measurable decreases in greenhouse gas emissions and increases in electrical grid flexibility in nations around the world.