Climate advocate brother favors solar energy for PH

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Br. Angel Ace Cortez, OFM, and lay people at San Jose Parish de Agudo, Caloocan City (Photo grabbed from Cortez' Facebook account)

MANILA, Aug. 27, 2015 – A member of the religious, who also champions environmental issues, expressed on Tuesday approval of a group’s proposal for the solar electrification of roughly 30 million households across the country that are currently off grid.

“I am in favor of the solar electrification,” said Br. Angel Ace Cortez, OFM, in response to the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice’s (PMCJ) call to bring electricity to more than 29 million people who live without electricity.

According to PMCJ national coordinator Gerry Arances, the figure is based on a presentation by the Department of Energy (DOE) for the Senate Committee on Climate Change investigation last July.

Payment by installment

Most of the 29 million unpowered households are on small islands and remote areas, he added.

Arances said the government should come up with a business model that is affordable for those at the grass root level, noting that zero-upfront capital, which is practiced in the United States and Germany, could be adopted.

The consumers could pay by installment, he explained.

A family can start from 100 watts, which is adequate to meet the basic power needs of illuminating a regular home, Arances said.

Appliances, and mobile devices like phones and laptops, which collectively use up to 500 watts, could tap into solar energy for power.

Free energy?

Solar panels have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, he said. If the consumers can complete payment in 5 years, their electricity for the remaining years will be free.

The proposed solar electrification can source funding from the Malaympaya fund, Arances said, noting that 80 percent of its proceeds should go to energy projects.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) can also be tapped, he said. Under a UN convention, developed countries have the responsibility to allot funds for developing countries’ adaptation and transition to low-carbon systems.

“Currently, the GCF amounts to US$10.2 billion,” Arances said. “All you need to do is access that fund.”

Power consumers will eventually be emancipated from dependence on monopolized power industry and its dictates, paving the way for the birth of “power democracy,” he added.

Response to Laudato Si

“It’s about time we lessen our contribution to carbon emission,” Cortez said. “I am encouraging religious communities and parishes to participate. It is our contribution to protect and preserve the ecosystem.”

The proposed solar electrification “is a concrete response to the call of Pope Francis,” he said.

According to the religious brother, if the public and private sectors will support it, the exploitation of the ecosystem will be mitigated.

As a Franciscan, he is called to the mission of stewardship of the ecosystem, the brother said. (Oliver Samson / CBCP News)

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