Sanchez: The Russian connection?

Nature Speaks

FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez III was in town recently to do a hard sell on the value of President Duterte’s trip to Russia. “You have to remember that we don’t have a big relationship with Russia and I think that the trip of the President opened the avenues for increased contact with Russians like tourism investments here. They’re very interested in looking at our infrastructure projects, particularly in power,” he said.

I am unfamiliar with Russian tourism. I can understand why Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler certainly hated the country’s bitter winters.

Dominguez said possible investments in the power sector include those for power distribution and generation, as well as for renewable energy (RE).

But why Russia? It’s rich in fossil fuels, not RE: natural gas, conventional oil, coal. The largest country in the world has the largest known natural gas reserves of any state on earth, along with the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. Mother Russia is the largest oil producer in the non-OPEC countries, and second biggest in the world after Saudi Arabia.

Australia’s Climate Council, the leading climate change communications organization from the Land Under, listed leaders on renewable energy. Among them: Sweden, Uruguay, Germany, China, and the USA.

In 2015, Sweden threw down the gauntlet with an ambitious goal: to eliminate fossil fuels from electricity generation by 2040 within its borders, and has ramped up investment in solar, wind, energy storage, smart grids, and clean transport. And the best part? The Swedes are challenging everyone else to join them in a race to become the first 100 percent renewable country. Now that’s a competition where everyone wins!

Uruguay is now almost 100 percent powered by renewables almost after less than 10 years of concerted effort. The country invested heavily in wind and solar, rising from just 40 percent renewables as recently as 2012. The secret? “Clear decision-making, a supportive regulatory environment, and a strong partnership between the public and private sector.”

Wondering how the world’s largest carbon emitter can also be a leader in renewable energy? Don’t laugh. In 2017 China had by far the largest amount of solar PV and wind capacity installed of any country—by a long shot. China has also committed to generating 35 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030 and cleaning up its polluted air.

Despite Trump’s climate change denial and stand for fossil fuels, the USA is a leader in solar power, where a new solar energy system gets installed every two minutes and 30 seconds in 2014, earning the US fifth place on the installed solar PV capacity global rankings. America also has the second-highest installed wind energy capacity in the world after China. The USA can make it MAGA: Made in the USA.

Our Department of Energy targets to increase the share of RE on total power source to about 35 percent by 2030. Relying on Russia is not the way to achieve that goal.

This, as the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 provides for the harmonization of policies for development of technologies that would benefit wind, hydropower, solar, ocean, and biomass energy.

So take your pick on the RE best practices.


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