Our world has been heavily dependent on fossil fuels as a source of energy. Fuel fossils in the form of oil, gas, coal, and peat all exist in limited quantities. For several years now, man has been feeling the effect of having to depend on a limited source – high oil prices and cost of electricity as well as unstable power supply. We also have to contend with the physical effects of using fossil fuels including air pollution and global warming. This is the reason why we need to find an alternative energy source. For all intents and purposes, Renewable Energy (RE) is the most viable option to date and the Switch Right On campaign in the Philippines shows a solid commitment to this end.
Switch Right On
The Switch Right On Movement aims to spread awareness on the current state of energy production and consumption as well as the policy direction for the local power sector. At present, more than 3 out of 10 Filipino households still remain without power. This is even as the demand for energy in the country continues to increase by 7% every year. RE technologies have been providing additional energy to help ensure electricity for millions of households worldwide.
This effort is essentially a multi-industry campaign geared towards promoting an increased use of renewable energy for environmental and economic sustainability. This initiative is being spearheaded by the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP), AIESEC Philippines, and other partners from various industries. International groups, government institutions, and local personalities expressed their support for renewable energy as a sound policy direction for the Philippines, as the country moves to promote energy security, self-sufficiency, and environmental protection.
Why Renewable Energy?
In theory, renewable energy comes from sources that will never run out, thus the term. We are looking unto the sun, wind, water, and biomass or biological materials derived from living or recently living organisms to provide us the needed energy to maintain our way of living. The current ratio of fossil fuel and renewable energy use is about 90:10, meaning that a mere 10% of the energy we are using today comes from renewable sources. The world is now at an economic point where the cost of fossil fuels is increasing while that of renewable energy is decreasing. This has effectively rendered alternative sources more practical.
Wind, solar, and hydroelectric systems generate electricity with very little to no impact on the environment. Although geothermal and biomass energy systems emit some air pollutants, their total air emissions is still generally much lower compared to that emitted with the use of the current sources of energy. The massive amount of pollution generated by the use of fossil fuels has been linked to a variety of health problems including cancer and terminal respiratory, neurological, and cardiac illnesses. Rapid urbanization and increased human activity have also overwhelmed our atmosphere with hazardous gases.
The Philippine Scene
According to Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, the Philippines’ dependence on energy provided by fossil fuel is the main reason why the country continues to bear the heavy burden of having one of the highest electricity costs in Asia. It is important to note that the country still imports at least 90% of this. The price of coal which has been the primary energy source in the Philippines for several decades now has more than doubled since 2010. Experts do not see any indication of slowing down in the price increase.
The shift therefore to the use of renewable energy becomes a natural step in making logical solutions to address a host of other social issues arising from fossil fuel dependence. Aside from ensuring a more progressive economy and a healthier environment, RE producers also generate employment, as proven by more than 5 million jobs created by other RE providers around the world, according to a 2012 Greenpeace study. In the United States, for example, the wind energy industry alone provided full-time jobs to more than 75,000 individuals back in 2011. These employment opportunities include careers in manufacturing, project development, construction and turbine installation, operations and maintenance, transportation and logistics, and financial, legal, and consulting services.[ American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). 2012a. AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report: Year Ending 2011. Washington, D.C.: American Wind Energy Association.
To help promote and accelerate investments in renewable energy technologies, the government will be implementing the feed-in-tariff (FIT) system beginning January 2015. These are 20-year rates paid for electricity fed into the grid providing support for RE providers to generate clean energy. The approved FIT rates—considered one of the cheapest in the world—will help minimize the continued rise in electricity costs while also ensuring the sustainable development of renewable energy technologies and facilities. Filipinos view renewable energy as the right way forward but one that needs stronger support from government and industry stakeholders.
Supporters of the Movement
Among those who voiced their support for the movement were Ashoka, the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide; local celebrities like newlywed TV host Bianca Gonzalez, Kapuso actress Bella Padilla, Save the Children ambassadors and actors Mikael Daez and Kylie Padilla, TV host and World Wildlife Fund for Nature ambassador Marc Nelson, PBA player and Habitat for Humanity ambassador Chris Tiu, and the Philippine Volcanoes. Here’s a peek into their Instagram posts signifying their full support for the use of Renewable Energy (RE).
With all these being said, Switch Right On intends to urge Filipinos from all walks of life to move away from their passive attitude on the current status of energy generation and turn on to supporting renewable energy. Using the image of the pinwheel which is a recognized symbol to promote greater understanding about renewable energy, all of us are enjoined to make our own and share our goals for the year 2015 in the context of creating a better world for all of us. Renewable energy is an unlimited, clean, free, and sustainable source of energy that—while may not completely replace other sources of energy—has become more viable and continues to be environmentally friendly.
So my last say for the year 2014 is this:
I REsolve to do everything within my personal capacity to take better caRE of our world starting in my own home, with the cooperation of my family , seeing nothing as being too little as to contribute to this gREat goal we must all work in together. I understand that the attainment of sustainable progREss is not easy but the promise of a better futuRE for ourselves, our loved ones, our country, and our world should be enough motivation.
Happy New Year!
To know more about the campaign and how you can help promote energy security, self-sufficiency, and environmental protection for the Philippines, visit www.switchrighton.com