The Philippines faces challenges in energy security, environmental sustainability, and energy affordability, the World Energy Council says in its 2019 report on the World Energy Trilemma Index.

Addressing the so-called energy trilemma calls for a collaborative effort that includes the government and research institutions.

The Access to Sustainable Energy Programme – Clean Energy Living Laboratories (ASEP-CELLs), funded by the European Union (EU), joins the effort towards addressing the energy trilemma by advocating affordable and sustainable energy for the Philippines.

The ASEP-CELLs aims to provide mechanisms on how best to address challenges in energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency. The project’s advocacy was affirmed by officials from the Department of Energy and European Union at the official launch held on 28 October 2018 in Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, Cagayan de Oro City.

The ASEP-CELLs project launch is graced by the presence its key stakeholders. From left to right: Felix William Fuentebella, Undersecretary, DOE; Dr. Josef Yap, Senior Technical Advisor, ASEP-CELLs; Father Roberto Yap, SJ, President, Xavier University; Giovanni Seritella, Program Manager, Environment and Climate Change, Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines; Eileen San Juan, Eileen San Juan, Local Economic and Investment Promotions Officer of LGU – Cagayan de Oro City.

According to ASEP-CELLs Senior Technical Advisor, Dr. Josef Yap, the project is set to empower stakeholders to effectively respond to energy challenges and seize opportunities for sustainable production and consumption, particularly in managing the country’s transition to sustainable low-carbon energy pathway.

Giovanni Seritella, Program Manager, Environment and Climate Change, Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines, discussed the EU’s support to achieve the target of the Philippine government to provide 100% electricity access to all Filipinos. He further emphasized the need for renewable energy and how the European Union provides innovative ways to address energy challenges through the ASEP. He envisions that the ASEP-CELLS project will transform the lives of its beneficiaries primarily through renewable energy.

Giovanni Seritella on EU’s support to achieve 100% electrification in the Philippines.

Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella of the Department of Energy, agreed that there is a growing need for renewable energy, but transition must not be rushed as research should be thorough and the readiness of the consumers should be assessed. “We should be careful on choosing the appropriate energy source” he said.

Department of Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella emphasizes the need for through research and selection on appropriate energy source to achieve energy security.

In the local scene, low-carbon energy sources are encouraged by environment advocates. Father Roberto Yap, SJ, President of the University, said that most power plants in Mindanao use coal which contributes to climate change. As a partner of the ASEP-CELLs project, Fr. Yap sees its contribution to policy formulation and spread of best practices in the area of clean and sustainable energy.

Insights on achieving greater energy security and affordable fuel mix were exchanged in panel discussions.

The launch gathered key stakeholders from the national government, local energy providers, civil society organizations, and the academe. Important insights were shared in two panel discussions.

Addressing energy security through research was discussed by Assistant Director Irma Exconde of the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, Department of Energy, and ASEP-CELLs partners, University of San Carlos, Manila Observatory.

Atty. Yla Glorie Marie Paras, Senior Policy Advisor of the Manila Observatory provided recommendations to promote energy security, one of which is to “Develop national policy to encourage energy connectivity to address the ‘energy trilemma’, ensuring that energy sources are affordable, reliable and environmentally-friendly.”

Views on national energy security issues and affordable fuel mix in Mindanao were also exchanged in a panel discussion at the launch. “The challenge now is how to minimize carbon footprints in Mindanao, given that the surplus in capacity is being supplied by coal.” Engr. Jorey Alfaro, Senior Vice-President of CEPALCO said.

The ASEP-CELLs is a three-year project led by the Ateneo School of Government, Manila Observatory, ICLEI-SEAS Secretariat, Xavier University and University of San Carlos that will conduct research studies, capacity-building activities and advocacy programs to support Department of Energy in energy policy-making and crafting other program interventions that will foster a sustainable clean energy pathway.