Promoting energy efficiency in the Philippines
NOTES FROM THE EU DELEGATION - Franz Jessen (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2019 - 12:00am

Ever since I became a desk officer for ASEAN and until now that I am ambassador for the EU in Manila, I have been amazed at the number of buildings which mushroomed in Metropolitan Manila.  

Due to high urbanization rate, rapid population growth, and increasing living standards, there is now a continuing demand for new commercial buildings offering  higher comforts, especially energy-intensive cooling systems. 

Since the building sector accounts for a large part of energy demand, it likewise contributes in a big way to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the country.  

While existing buildings and infrastructures in the country especially the government-owned ones recognize the need to prioritize energy efficiency,  procurement issues became  challenges to many. 

The EU Delegation to the Philippines in consultation with the Philippine Government   has  stepped up  its support to  the energy efficiency initiatives of  government buildings through the Access to Sustainable Energy Programme or ASEP.  

Jointly implemented by the Philippines’  Department of Energy (DOE) and the EU Delegation, ASEP aims to primarily  improve energy efficiency and to generate savings equivalent to the  greenhouse gas emissions of one 50 - megawatt coal fired power plant. 

The Delegation has already committed €60 million in grants for the Philippine Government to help achieve its household electrification targets and to improve energy efficiency.  

ASEP has provided technical assistance on energy efficiency technologies, procurement processes, and very soon, will provide opportunities for financing options for energy efficiency projects in public buildings. 

It is encouraging to note that through ASEP, good progress has already been made in engaging with the buildings sector in various forums to help improve energy efficiency.

 ASEP is now continuing its interventions to  collaborate with the DOE in pursuing improvements in building energy performance, development of benchmarks, and strengthening institutional mechanisms to speed up adoption of energy efficiency measures in government buildings. 

Along with increased access to electricity, energy efficiency is an important aspect of the  “Sustainable Energy for All” agenda which has now become a shared priority of the European Union and the Philippines. 

We are proud of our strong partnership with the DOE which has rightfully placed high priority to improve efficiency of public buildings through the government energy management program (GEMP). 

More than ever, the EU remains committed to support the Philippine energy sector in its efforts to accelerate economic growth, achieve its development goals, and address climate change through sustainable energy.  

The prospect for increasing energy efficiency is even better now through the significant contribution of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian in putting together an enabling framework for energy efficiency in the Philippines through the upcoming Energy Efficiency (EE) and Conservation Act. 

Energy efficiency has to be increased at all stages of the energy chain, from generation to final consumption. At the same time, the benefits of energy efficiency must outweigh the costs, for instance those that result from carrying out renovations. 

So far, the major contribution of ASEP is helping navigate procurement for energy efficiency projects in government buildings. The usual lowest-bid approach to government procurement will not be applicable to these technologies with higher upfront costs though much lower operating costs, e.g. LED lights compared with incandescent bulbs for example.

ASEP has likewise promoted the “life cycle cost” approach which considers total cost of using EE technology over its lifetime. This approach was explained in workshops and fora with government agencies. Simulation studies have also been prepared for existing (through retrofitting) and new buildings (through design options) using this methodology.

In terms of EE technologies, ASEP has focused on LED lights which apply to government/commercial buildings and other sectors notably residential. ASEP has also helped improve the energy performance standards for LED, conducted market surveys on LED penetration in PH retail market (the 1st ever survey conducted by DOE) and redesigned the energy labels to become more consumer-friendly (now based on 5star rating).

In the area of appliance standards and labelling, ASEP has also supported the development of energy performance standards for refrigerators and air-conditioning units, redesigned energy labels for major appliances, conducted market surveys for electric fans and washing machines, and designed monitoring, verification and enforcement (MVE) scheme for the Department of Energy. 

The ASEP has done baby steps and it is now up for the collective efforts of all stakeholders -government, businesses, communities - to contribute to energy efficiency.  While April marks the “Earth Day” celebrations,  it is good to take a stock of what can be done ahead in this regard even before and beyond April.  

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