The ASEP-CELLs Project held its third Steering Committee Meeting last 18 November 2020.

The meeting virtually gathered 36 key members of the project consortium and representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines.

The meeting was chaired by Dr. Josef Yap, Senior Technical Advisor of the ASEP-CELLs project, who  outlined the main objective of the agenda: to collectively discuss the program progress vis-à-vis the original schedule. This has become imperative because of the disruptions caused by the pandemic and also because year two of the project is drawing near to a close.

Dr. Yap provided an overview of the highlights of the recent Research Advisory Board Meeting. It was mentioned that year two project implementation produced a number of working papers – where 13 are in the pipeline and more will be added in 2021.

Project milestones were further discussed by Ms. Cecil Benavidez, ASEP-CELLs’ Project Manager. She noted that there were a total of 25 milestones for 2020 with most being associated with knowledge management. This likely resulted from the extended period of lockdown in the Philippines. More milestones are expected to be added into the list as travel and social gathering restrictions ease in the country.

Consortium partners presented their progress, including the development of GIS and HEVR Maps of existing renewable energy sites, potential sites for hydro power, wind and solar irradiance map of Mindanao. The development of the Renewable Energy Atlas to help in risk mapping is also underway.

The Ateneo School of Government also recently launched the Masters in Public Management Energy Transitions Track, a specialized program to create champions of clean energy in the country. Recruitment of students is ongoing and the first cohort will begin their program in January 2021.

Installation of solar PVs is also gaining momentum in the case study sites in the Visayas. The Visayas CELL expects all installations to be completed in three island communities by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the recently-held virtual Energy Fora in the Visayas and Mindanao were well received by the local government officials. ICLEI SEAS will proceed with MOU signing in Bohol and Sta. Rosa as its demonstration sites.

It was discussed that the project may have some delays largely due to the lockdown; however, the delays are manageable. The partners were advancing their activities, including field work in areas where allowed. With the easing of travel restrictions, the Project Management Office (PMO) has already conducted a monitoring visit to Cagayan de Oro. This was considered as another key milestone by the project. It is envisaged that more travels will follow suit in the coming months.

At the end of the partners’ presentations, Dr. Yap noted that convergence was achieved by the consortium. Partners exerted effort to ensure that activities  were complementary with each other. This was confirmed by Giovanni Serritella, Programme Manager – Environment and Climate Change of the European Union.

Mr. Serritella commended the project for its progress despite the pandemic, stating that the current contingency measures and workplans are robust. He further acknowledged the good results of the project in many areas from LGUs, media visibility, and production of GIS and HEV maps.

He suggested that it will be good to see how the project will support the commitments expressed by the government and private sectors during the Energy and Sustainable Development webinar in July. Entering the final year of project, he suggested to make possible efforts to ensure that the DOE and local government partners have ownership of the project outputs for sustainability.