Philippines saved P4.5B in fossil fuel costs through solar generation — report

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Philippines saved P4.5B in fossil fuel costs through solar generation � report
Photo shows solar panels
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines saved $78 million in fossil fuel spending through solar generation in the first half of 2022 even though the country has yet to maximize its solar potential, according to a report released Thursday.

The analysis by Ember, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Ari and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis found that solar generation allowed China, India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand to avoid fossil fuel costs of $34 billion from January to June this year.

This is equivalent to 9% of total fossil costs during this period.

The report said that while the increase in the solar capacity of the Philippines and Thailand is marginal, the avoided fuel cost is “still notable.”

Solar only accounted for only 1.7% of the generation in the Philippines in the first six months of 2022, but it avoided around P4.5 billion in fossil fuel costs. Thailand avoided potential fossil fuel use costing $209 million despite solar accounting for only 2% of the kingdom’s electricity.

The report noted that “there appears to be a new tone to the Philippines’ effort to expand solar capacity, which could be a gamechanger for the country.”

“But the country’s energy policies have often proven fragile, and smaller rooftop and distributed solar players still find it challenging to access finance,” it said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that increasing the use of renewable energy sources is “at the top of our climate agenda.” He is also pushing fossil gas and nuclear—energy sources that environment and clean energy groups say will impede the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy.  

Massive solar potential

The report found that the majority of the estimated savings in fossil fuel costs were in China. The country avoided $21 billion in additional coal and gas imports from January to June 2022 thanks to solar power generation alone.

It was followed by Japan ($5.6 billion in avoided fossil fuel costs), India ($4.2 billion in avoided fuel costs), Vietnam ($1.7 billion in avoided fuel costs), and South Korea ($1.5 billion in avoided fuel costs).

“Asian countries need to tap into their massive solar potential to rapidly transition away from costly and highly-polluting fossil fuels,” said Isabella Suarez, CREA’s Southeast Asia analyst.

“The potential savings from existing solar alone are enormous, and expediting their deployment alongside other clean energy sources such as wind, will be crucial for energy security in the region,” she added.

Norman Waite, energy finance analyst of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said that capital costs, fuel costs, and operations and maintenance costs will be critical to realize the solar potential of Asia. 

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