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The Philippines’ energy mix

Article - July 28, 2011
The Philippines has a growing population and a growing economy, both of which will increase demand for energy in coming years
The government, local companies and foreign companies have ambitious investment plans to meet the Philippines’ growing energy needs, through a combination of fossil fuel and renewable energy sources.

Enfinity is one such company. It was founded in 2005 in Belgium, and its core business is developing, building, financing and managing renewable energy projects, especially solar and wind projects. One example is providing solar energy to remote areas using solar panels, a small investment that can contribute to a big improvement in local living conditions.

“In some areas, a simple light bulb could change the whole culture of the village and their lifestyles, so they can study at night,” says Dennis Ibarra, president of Enfinity Philippines Renewable Resources Inc. “In the future, with a couple of solar panels they can have fridges and freezers.”

A local company that’s making a difference is Aboitiz Power, which is specialized in hydroelectric projects. The company recently finished two new hydro plants on the island of Mindanao that were inaugurated by President Benigno Aquino and will contribute 42.5 megawatts of capacity on the island.

“We have an advantage because we have an organization on the ground,” says Miguel Aboitiz, senior vice president of Power Marketing and Trading for Aboitiz Power. “We have the technicians and the finance people etc. here already, whereas a foreign investor has to bring them in or hire them and start from scratch.”

Of course, big multinationals have other advantages, such as enormous financial resources and the ability to create thousands of jobs with just one project. Shell Oil has a stake in the Malampaya natural gas field project, and has other employment-generating operations in the country as well.

“The biggest shared global service center of Shell is here in Manila and it is a hugely successful operation,” says Edgar Chua, chairman of Shell's Filipino business. “We have around five or six globally with around 7,000 employees and we have 3,000 here in the Philippines, which shows the significance of the operations here.”