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Bring down electricity prices and the inflation rate will go down

Yellow Pad By Roberto Verzola A sure way to bring down prices in any market is to replace monopoly with open competition. And if that market supplies a good that almost everyone relies on, then the cascading impact of lower prices will surely pull the inflation rate down. Open competition does not mean a few […]

Low-carbon path

Yellow Pad By Roberto Verzola   A previous piece showed that our greenhouse gas reduction commitment to the Paris climate treaty meant a gradual 2.02% annual reduction in fossil-based electricity generation, for a total reduction of 23.3% by 2030 compared to 2017 levels. The annual reduction required by this low-carbon path is only half the […]

Reducing power plant carbon emissions by 70% is doable

Yellow Pad By Roberto Verzola My two previous pieces (BW, July 16 and July 23, 2018) discussed four flaws in the DoE’s current power development plan that led it to overestimate the country’s 2040 baseload requirements by more than 100%. Another BW piece disputed my conclusion and claimed that there is no baseload bloat. I urge all […]

More flaws in the DoE plan raise baseload bloat to 103%

Yellow Pad By Roberto Verzola A previous piece identified one serious flaw in the DoE’s Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2016-2040: the DoE still assumes that baseload plants will retain their 70% share in the electricity mix until 2040. This will not happen. Steadily dropping solar prices will make market-driven solar penetration inevitable. The rising solar […]

Flawed DoE assumption results in baseload bloat

Yellow Pad By Roberto Verzola Over the past four decades, solar photovoltaic (PV) prices have been dropping by an average of 9% per year. As a result, rooftop solar is the cheapest daytime source of electricity today in many countries. In the Philippines, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from solar rooftops has gone below […]

Jatropha curcas failing to live up to expectations as sustainable biofuel

The UK newspaper, The Independent’s online edition recently reported how jatropha curcas, the oil-bearing plant that has been touted as the remedy for our transport fuel woes of high prices and greenhouse gas emissions, is failing to live up to expectations. The non-edible plant has been promoted as currently the most sustainable source of biodiesel because it supposedly will grow just about anywhere, requires little water and needs little management. The Indepedent article, citing a report by the UK charity, ActionAid, says that actual experiences by farmers in developing countries growing the plant have shown poor results. Cultivating jatropha on poor soil yields low yields that provide no profits for farmers. In India, farmers were enticed to plant jatropha with the promise of a boom in demand but have found no buyer for their oil-bearing seeds. Similar articles have appeared at OneWorld UK. The Philippine government, in its alternative fuel program, has also promoted jatropha as an ideal biodiesel source (instead of expensive coconut oil) but has not progressed beyond experimental plantations and field tests and has built no infrastructure to support the industry.

The debate on the impact of industrial biofuels on the poor and on the climate continues. This is partly due to the EU directive that seeks to require that 10 percent of its transport fuels be sourced from renewable sources by 2020. Locally, the biofuels law already mandates a 5 percent biodiesel blend with producers clamoring to raise that to 10 percent. Such a law is an implicit subsidy on these more expensive fuels and forces motorists to use biofuels even if their supposed social and environmental benefits are are doubtful. ActionAid has two publications on the negative impacts of biofuels, particularly jatropha on farmers and food that may be accessed here and here . A Friends of the Earth report on jatropha in Swaziland is available here . More materials on contrarian views on biofuels are available on these organizations respective websites (ActionAid and Friends of the Earth ). These reports complement AER’s own report on biofuels development in the Philippines and the apparently minimal benefits on the poor farmers who supply the feedstocks.