Solar energy in Philippines

For a very long time, while most of the world was already using the videotape format VHS, the Philippines was still using the betamax. We may be making another betamax decision, except that this time around, this is going to cost us and it will be very painful.

The statement that we cannot pursue Solar Power because of China’s dominance in the market is a stupid one that makes no sense at all. With that kind of thinking, we ought to ban iPads and iPhones which are made in China by Foxconn.

Better yet, we ought to buy out the 40% owned by the State Grid Corporation of China in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. The Chinese have the final say on all technical matters in the company. The NGCP is a joint venture of the State Grid Corporation of China, Monte Oro Grid Resource of the Philippines and Calaca High Power Corporation. The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) took over TransCo on 15 January 2009 and holds the 50-year franchise to operate and maintain the Philippines’ electricity transmission network.

Actually, China has done a great thing for solar energy. While it may have caused a lot of major solar cell manufacturers to go bankrupt, China just made Solar Power more affordable by manufacturing solar panels at less than $2 per watt.

Considering how much sunlight we get in our country, at this low price, which we can expect will go even lower as the price of coal and diesel increases, there is no more excuse for not going solar energy. Surely, the fact that the Chinese are fishing in our Scarborough Shoals cannot be made an excuse for sticking to using only oil and diesel for our energy needs.

A reasonable and prudent policy on Energy would be to say “Yes” to both Coal Power plants and Solar Energy plants. In fact, for the urgent need of Mindanao for electricity, a solar power plant that can provide 100 to 200 megawatts can be put up and become operational in six to eight months.

Why are we not going for solar power? Surely, in the next few months, primarily, because it makes more sense to go solar than to use diesel (which we can predict will become even more expensive), there will be a major global shift to solar energy. Going solar makes sense for the Philippines. We have a lot of sun, while we have to import the coal and oil that feeds our power plants.

The Mindanao Energy Summit was a big disappointment in that the government is obviously unawares about renewables.

In many cities of the world, garbage converts into energy. Sure, it causes some pollution but when we simply dump them in a place like Payatas or in other private dumpsites run by corporate interests, doesn’t that also do harm to our environment?

Have our energy mavens even just looked at garbage as an energy source or are they, as reflected by the Mindanao Summit, firmly in the pockets of the coal and oil traders?

Renewables — hydro, solar energy, geothermal energy, biomass, wind energy and biofuels — ought to be fully studied. We have all these in our country. Instead, we seem stuck on importing our energy fuels.

If this is the Philippine energy policy, then, clearly this policy works not for the Philippines but for the suppliers of the fuels we use.

We actually have two automated voting systems in the Philippines. There is the PCOS and the more fully automated system from Mega Pacific, which was bought for the 2004 elections but was never used.

This was bought and paid for, until, according to the story I heard, a demonstration was held in Malacañang. When they saw how it operated, a decision was made not to use the automated system. Else, FPJ would surely win!

Thus, the Supreme Court accepted a complaint about the bidding from someone who did not participate in the bidding and later ruled that not only was the bidding done improperly, the machines were also declared as not-working by the SC even as computer professionals said that they worked perfectly.

The SC also ruled that Mega Pacific had to return the Comelec’s money. This has not happened since it was a perfected sale and the Comelec still owed Mega Pacific. Thus, these machines are in storage in a Comelec warehouse.

From what I have been told, the Mega Pacific system is actually superior to the PCOS because the transmission of the results is instant and automatic, while the PCOS system needs a human to transmit the results.

Sadly, despite owning two automated systems, if the SC rules again that the Comelec may not use the PCOS machines, we will be a country with two perfectly working automated voting systems, but that we will have to manually count our votes.

What a mess!