Energy sustainability

>> Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ike Señeres

The European Union (EU) has set a target that by 2030; all its members would have achieved at least 27% utilization of renewable energy. However, some island communities within the EU have already achieved 100% utilization by tapping various renewable sources such as wind, solar, wave, tidal, hydro, geothermal, biomass and dendro.
Looking at the successful cases, we could derive the conclusion that the production of energy and water could, and should always go together. To put it simply, water could be produced if there is an energy supply and conversely, energy could be produced if there is a water supply. Basic as this reality is, it seems to escape the consciousness of governments in many countries, including of course the developing countries.
 Although the minimum target of 27% has been set for all member countries, it goes without saying that nothing would prevent these countries from setting higher targets and as a matter of fact, many have done so. What is interesting to note here is that targets have been set for the national level and yet, in some of these countries, many communities have set their own local targets at their own levels.
It would be easy to understand that national governments would set their targets at the national level purely for energy purposes. In spite of that however, many local communities have bundled their energy targets with other related targets such as the production of water and food.
 Of course, it would not be easy to understand that if and when sufficient supplies of irrigation water are available, the production of more food would easily be achievable. As the experience of many countries have shown, the demand for agricultural water has to be balanced with residential water and industrial water, the latter including water for the production of energy.
Depending on the country and the locality, the distribution of the supply becomes more difficult, because food is needed as much as water is needed, in much the same way that power is also needed. In some cases, the dilemmas are solved by using power to produce more water, and the need for balance is solved.
 Maybe it’s just me who is not aware of it, but it seems that the Department of Energy (DOE) has not published a target for the percentage of renewable energy that should be utilized nationwide by a certain year in the future. Either that or they may not have published it. Either way, with or without it, nothing should stop the municipal or provincial governments from setting their own targets at their own local levels.
Whatever renewable source they should use should also be their own local decision, because they would know best what is locally available to them. As far as I am concerned however, the best solution is always a mixed solution, combining at least two renewable sources.
On the upside, it is a good thing that we have electric cooperatives all over the country that are doing the function of power distribution. On the downside however, distribution is the only thing that they are doing, because very few of these cooperatives have ventured into the business of power production, if ever there are any who have done so already.
On the other hand, as far as water is concerned, all the water districts are producing their own water but it seems that none of them have considered the idea of using the flow of water to run turbines that could produce energy. This kind of fragmented thinking seems to be prevalent in the Philippines, because the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) has also not considered using its water flows to run turbines.
 Although electric cooperatives and water districts are deemed to be independent entities, nothing should also stop the Municipal Development Councils (MDCs) and the Provincial Development Councils (PDCs) from including power and water concerns in their respective agenda items. \
Since the Local Government Code (LGC) provides for the participation of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in these local councils, the people in these local jurisdictions should grab the opportunity to drive the agendas so sustainable that power and water production targets could be set for the common good. In a manner of speaking, it could be said that power and water are too important basic needs to leave to the local elective officials.
Although it could be said that power, water and food is the most important troika of basic needs, it could also be said that there is that other troika of environmental preservation, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation that is also equally important. Fortunately, by diligently attending to this second troika, we could also strengthen the first troika as a consequence.
For example, if we dredge the silted rivers for the purpose of environmental preservation, it will not only result in flood control, it would also increase the supply of water for irrigation and human consumption. Aside from that, it will make the flow of water faster, so much so that it would already be possible to produce hydro electric energy. Some companies like Melekon Corporation are even willing to dredge rivers for free, provided that they get the silted material in exchange for their free services.

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