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RE, tech innovations to dictate energy mix

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By Myrna M. Velasco

ABU DHABI, UAE – Industry experts and government leaders around the world are at a consensus that renewable energy (RE) and “disruptive” innovations in technology will continue to set pathway on tectonic shifts in energy mix of every market.

Nevertheless, they laid down a cautionary reminder that the transformation of energy systems to “cleaner energy solutions” must not compromise the need of the consumers – especially on the sphere of affordability.

By far, most countries in the world – including the Philippines – are heading into potent rollout of RE investments and this has been undeniably recasting the energy mix of these markets. Some power markets though are slow in embracing the transition; while the rest are quite fairly aggressive in the deployment of clean energy technology solutions.

In a panel discussion of government policymakers and industry thought leaders at the 24th World Energy Congress here, Joao Galamba, secretary of state for energy of Portugal, imparted a lesson that in his country’s case, it was able to push forward with its energy mix switch to renewable energy without necessarily creating adverse impact on its consumers.

“It is easy to talk about saving the planet if you are comfortable, but if you have needs and are poor, it is not a priority,” he said, while adding that in Portugal “our clean energy goals can be addressed by future and existing technology and that it presents a fair deal to consumers.”

Portugal is among the countries in the world that had already set out ambitious goal of increasing renewables in its energy mix to the level of 80% by year 2030 – and RE-underpinned consumption of its citizenry much be reaching a scale of 47% in 2050.

Galamba noted that while these goals are paramount, “what is more important is that we show to citizens this is an opportunity and not a threat that will lower their living standards or increase their costs, but rather the opposite.”

He added that a shift to cleaner energy “cannot be done with the people against you,” hence, the legal and policy-setting pace must be pursued in such a way that the consumers are not being burdened with higher costs, and at the same time, the rules of the game must also incentivize investment flows.

Serge Colle, partner for Global Power and Utilities Advisory of consulting firm Ernst & Young, indicated that governments are best placed to accelerate the transition to renewables as well as in supporting innovation and the introduction of new technologies.

“If you think about where we are now in terms of the Paris Agreement and where we are heading, the challenges are bigger than ever before and the government is the only player that can help solve the problem,” he said.

Dr. Matar Al Neyadi, undersecretary of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Energy and Industry, qualified that in planning the future energy mix, “it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution” and that technology innovations must also aide the sector’s transformative phases. He further reminded energy planners and leaders on the need “to examine and understand the variety of approaches and work closer together to meet the bigger challenges.”

Matar stressed that “the shifts in the energy industry are often described as “disruptive”’… and these changes are deliberate and desirable as the world looks to a sustainable future,” with him asserting that the UAE itself “has already begun the journey by embracing a healthy diversification of energy sources.”

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