Graciano P. Yumul, Jr. D. Sc.
The country’s energy situation tells of unrelenting quest for full development and exploitation of new and renewable, indigenous, and alternative energy sources. All these impact on the country’s fundamental objective to achieve energy security. This has been a national development plot. But a new chapter begins with the Biofuels Act of 2006, which decrees the mandatory use of alternative energy particularly biofuels.
Interventions of the science community in developing alternative energy sources are gaining headway. But there’s a long road ahead in terms of continuous development and use of these sources. The law requires that biofuels, specifically coco-methyl ester or CME must be blended with diesel initially from 1% and higher if warranted. But this calls for expanded research and development efforts and the corollary investments to ensure sustainable biofuels production.The CME technology is known for decades confirming the viability of vegetable oils as fuel substitute. Such knowledge has helped ignite interest in other biofuels sources. Jatropha, for example, leads a horde of potential biofuel sources and generates excitement for the development of alternative fuel feedstock known as jatropha methyl ester or JME.
The development and utilization of indigenous energy sources can be traced to the extraction of Philippine coal for its gas-producing quality. Several R&D studies suggest the best way to utilize domestic coal deposits and in RP’s energy supply mix is for the period 2004-2014, when coal-for-fuel use picks up steadily. Technology has caught up to ensure that energy from coal would be clean.
The Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development spearheads R&D planning for alternative energy, which is designed to achieve energy independence, efficiency, and sustainability. PCIERD focuses on fuel diversification with concerns on clean air tucked in, and advocate policies that would enforce use of alternative fuels.
From coal, we’re now seriously considering to further develop compressed natural gas, geothermal, micro-hydro, wind, solar, and ocean as energy resources. These resources are live options in the country’s continuing pursuit for energy independence.
But appropriate technologies are needed to develop and exploit these resources. While at this, there has to be continued exploration of minerals, study of new materials and feedstocks, and improvement of processes to utilize indigenous energy resources.
Going alternative is one way to offset the damage inflicted on the environment. Technology provides options to consume natural resources responsibly. It is just comforting to know that there are emerging and practical methods of harnessing energy with substantially less damaging effects on the environment.