Source of energy for sustainable cities

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The Philippines is an emerging economy and the country has moved from agriculture to industrialization. Conventional fossil fuels such as oil and gas are still the main source of base load requirements.

With the current global energy crisis and the threat of climate change, there is a need and demand for environmentally friendly energy sources and responsible consumption. To ensure a viable, healthy and environmentally friendly future, the Philippines must switch to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy sources.

Vulnerability to climate change of the Philippines

Based on the 2021 Global Climate Risk Index from the non-governmental organization Germanwatch, the Philippines ranked fourth among 10 countries that were affected by climate change from 2000 to 2019. Of the 317 related events to the climate that occurred in the country from 2000 to 2019, the country lost more than $3 billion in purchasing power parities (PPP) – and suffered more than 800 deaths, which places it in 2n/a after Burma.

Urbanization and energy consumption

As the Filipino population increases, urbanization is growing rapidly in many cities of the archipelago, increasing its energy consumption due to spatial expansion. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the level of urbanization or the percentage of the population residing in urban areas is 51% in 2019. With an increasing rate of urbanization, the energy consumption of the Philippines has increased by an average of 6.5% over a five-year period from 2014 to 2019 according to Department of Energy power statistics.

Sustainable city concept

As population density increases, so does the country’s electricity consumption – and unfortunately, pollution from power generation continues to escalate.

Energy production is one of the main contributors to GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. So how can our energy infrastructure be developed in a way that supports economic growth and a high quality of life while radically reducing the environmental impact of our cities? This is where sustainable cities come in.

According to the Institute for Research in Technology of the Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, a sustainable city is an efficient urban center that offers a high quality of life to its inhabitants through the optimal management of its resources. Since energy management is one of the most pressing issues in urban development, significant attention and effort must be devoted to this challenge.

Here are some of the energy solutions offered by Sustainable Cities.

Solar energy

With the use of photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar energy can be converted into direct current electricity using semiconductor materials. In the Philippines, the 63.3 megawatt Calatagan Solar Farm is one of the most advanced photovoltaic farm facilities in the country.

geothermal energy

The Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of geothermal energy for electricity generation after the United States. Due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country’s susceptibility to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions has provided a source of energy to diversify its energy mix. The country is actually home to three of the 10 largest geothermal power plants in the world.

Wind energy

In addition to the largest geothermal power plant in the world, the Philippines is also home to the largest wind project in Southeast Asia, the Burgos Wind Project in Ilocos Norte. It is owned and operated by EDC Wind Power Corporation (EBWPC) which is a subsidiary of Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

Hydroelectricity

With over 70 plants in operation, the Philippines has a total installed hydropower capacity of approximately 3,701 MW.

Energy recovery from waste

Typical waste-to-energy strategies include recycling, burning or landfilling.

This energy from waste plays a key role in providing a sustainable source of energy since urban residents produce approximately twice as much waste as their rural counterparts. With this technology, cities have a waste management option that reduces the volume of their solid waste in landfills and offsets their need for traditional energy sources such as coal.

Optimization of energy consumption

The energy savings that can be achieved are a key factor in integrating systems and making our infrastructures smarter and more efficient. Highlighting the study carried out by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2016, cities account for 65% of global energy consumption and 70% of man-made carbon emissions. With these figures, there is an urgent need to optimize our energy consumption – and to achieve this, we must adapt the architecture of green buildings integrated with our infrastructure and using smart grids.

According to the World Green Building Council, a “green” building is a structure that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive outcomes, on our climate and natural environment. Although standards for green buildings vary, they are generally designed to use less energy and water and improve indoor air quality.

Energy efficiency is one of the most important factors in almost any green building program. Strategic window selection, improved insulation, use of smart technologies such as light sensors and LEDs, use of clean energy heating/cooling systems all contribute to an energy efficient building.

A smart grid, on the other hand, is an electrical network that includes a variety of operational and energy measurements, including smart meters and smart appliances. Through the interconnectivity of sensor-integrated devices, a smart grid generates data and shares that data with the entire grid, which will optimize energy consumption and provide predictive energy analytics.

Switching from a traditional energy source to renewable energy involves not only switching to an alternative energy source, but also ensuring that it is cost effective, sustainable and beneficial for development. Reliance on limited fuels like coal and oil has left us dependent on a non-renewable source of energy – which will eventually run out. The use of fossil fuels has contributed significantly to climate change. If we are to combat and minimize the effects of climate change, we must seriously consider alternative energy sources that are renewable and sustainable.

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