Time to consider solar power
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - February 12, 2018 - 12:00am

In view of the rising prices of fossil fuel and the growing scarcity of resources we have reached a point wherein we truly need to consider alternative sources of energy. This has been a long time coming and we’ve known for years that our resources are limited and getting pricier by the day. Why not seriously consider investing in solar power as an alternative energy source? It makes a lot of sense. We’ve already looked into wind power, hydrothermal, and geothermal so why not diversify more?

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said recently that it’s time for the government and private sector to work together to find other sources of power. Recently we have made strong strides in solar energy and I think it’s as good a time as any to see how far we can go with this if we invest properly in the right infrastructure to support it. We currently have one of the highest energy consumption percentages in Asia and we really need to think long-term if we are going to be able to keep up with growing demand.

These days, in all parts of the world and not just the Philippines sustainability has become the most important consideration when it comes to resources. Populations are growing on a daily basis and that just means more and more people will be consuming resources and we have to find ways to be able to sustain them or we’re going to run out. It’s not like how it was in years past when it was just about finding sources, now it’s about finding sources that are going to last.

I remember years ago when I was in Germany at the government’s invitation I was given a tour of their different states and was amazed to see how they diversify their power sources. In one of the provinces solar panels were a mainstay on the rooftops of houses, offices, and manufacturing plants. Everyone was working together to ensure there was enough energy for everyone alongside traditional energy sources.

In the Philippines, we tend to be reactionary instead of planning ahead. This is a pity because it usually means that we only act when the situation is getting dire. We could have made changes ahead of time and saved ourselves the worry and strain but that’s not typically how we do things. We’ve known that electricity is something that is only increasing in demand. On occasion we have rotational brownouts just to be able to ration out the energy available.

I still remember back in the ‘90s when we’d have 12-hour blackouts until President Ramos addressed this issue by importing mobile power generators at great cost. This helped greatly but again we are reaching a saturation point and soon supply won’t be able to meet demand.

I am glad that Meralco and the government are finally beginning to look at alternative sources. I believe that diversifying is the best solution too so that we aren’t completely dependent on just one thing. It’s not all just gas, or coal, or solar but an important and good mix of all. This gives us more options and not dependent on just one source. At the same time I’m also hoping that this helps ease the costs a bit because, again, there is more than just one option.

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I was quite alarmed to read in the papers the other day that, according to the National Food Authority (NFA), there was a rice shortage with the supply dwindling down to just two days from the mandated 15 days. We’ve already begun importing large quantities of rice from other countries and yet we find ourselves with a shortage and a rise in prices due to the NFA’s decision to stop supplying cheap rice to retailers.

It’s a pity because there was a time that the Philippines was one of the best rice exporters in the region. Decades ago the Philippines was the center of attention in the Asian region with governments from other countries sending their experts here to learn our rice growing technologies at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at Los Baños, Laguna. Today, we are importing rice from Thailand, Vietnam, and other sources. It’s a pity because I believe we still have the capacity to be self-sufficient in homegrown rice.

However, despite the NFA warning, the head of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food wondered why the supply was dwindling when they feel there is a sufficient supply of domestically produced rice. Along this vein, there are calls for the committee to look closer and find out why there is a shortage and what is being done domestically to deal with it. The NFA is being called out for quickly resorting to importation when there are solutions available here at home. Hopefully they come to a resolution that is beneficial to everyone.

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I’m glad the President Duterte has outlawed issuing gift certificates with expiry dates. It’s about time. He said that from now on issuing of gift certificates with an expiration date is illegal under the Gift Check Act of 2017. Even before he signed this bill though I had already expressed by annoyance with gift checks that expire, as I am sure others have as well. It just doesn’t make sense to me, because if you purchased a gift certificate for someone you have already pre-paid for the good or service. Why should that gift check expire when you’ve already paid the full price?

I’ve always thought it was ridiculous that recipients had to rush to use their gift checks before the expiration date. I’ve unfortunately lost many gift checks because of this in the past. At least now no one will have to anymore.

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