Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Ambassadors of the Republic of Korea to the Philippines: point men in the land of their blood brothers

(Published in ENRICH magazine)

HISTORICALLY, THE KOREAN EMBASSY in the Philippine has been at the forefront of Korean-Philippine relations and its Ambassadors the point men in this role.

Some of these men have been more effective than others, as is the case with all ambassadors from whatever nation.

But the Ambassadors of the Republic of Korea to the Philippines over the past decade have measurably and immeasurably contributed to strengthening their country’s already deep historic ties with the Philippines. Especially in a period marked by spectacular Philippine economic growth and mounting security challenges triggered by China’s imperial expansionism.

The four Ambassadors of the Republic of Korea to the Philippines since 2008 can probably be described as “quietly effective.” Of course, it’s a given their aim is to advance their country’s national interests, but the Philippines and South Korea share a special historical bond like no other.

This deep historical bond between the Philippines and South Korea forged in the late 1940s seems to have transcended national interests, however. One of Korea’s Ambassadors told Filipino soldiers who defended South Korea during the Korean War (1950-53) that the Korean government wanted to assist the Philippines become a nation as rich as his.

Stunned to hear this, the Filipino veterans were even more astounded when the Ambassador said this happy event might occur by the 2030s. And, to his credit, this Korean Ambassador walked the talk during his two-years in office.

The four Korean men who held the title of Ambassador to the Philippines over the past eight years were witness to rapid and sustained Philippine economic growth (6% on average from 2010-2015).

South Korea contributed significantly to this growth with investments; tourists and trade, and her Ambassadors were undoubtedly part of this equation with their quiet effectiveness.

Blood brothers
Besides a dedication to helping grow the Philippine economy and helping mitigate poverty, these Ambassadors were all aware of the deep debt of gratitude Korea owes the Philippines. That gratitude stems from the historical fact South Korea and the Philippines are, quite literally, “blood brothers.”

In September 1947, a proposal by the Philippines at the United Nations helped guarantee South Korea’s first general election that led directly to the creation of the Republic of Korea on August 15, 1948.

On March 3, 1949, the Philippines became the first Asian state to open diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea. The Philippines was a “ninong” (godfather) to South Korea at its birth.

In a letter to President Elpidio Quirino, Syngman Rhee, first President of South Korea, said of the Philippines:

“As a nation which courageously and with high vision stood resolutely in the forefront of the international movement to re-establish the sovereignty resident in the people of Korea, your generous and forthright extension of recognition to Korea comes as a happy augury of cordial relationships of our two peoples.”

Only 15 months later or on June 25, 1950, communist North Korea launched a massive invasion aimed at conquering South Korea. That invasion ignited the Korean War. Impoverished South Korea (then one of the five poorest countries in the world) pleaded to the world for assistance and the Philippines responded immediately.

Over the next few weeks, the Philippines rushed food, medical supplies, tanks and weapons to South Korea. And on August 7, President Quirino announced the historic decision to send Filipino soldiers to South Korea to help save it from communist conquest.

The Philippines became the first Asian nation to send combat troops to defend South Korea, and the fourth member state of the United Nations to do so.

On September 19, 1950, less than three months after the start of the Korean War, the first Filipino soldiers landed in Korea at the port city of Busan. The 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) was the first of five Filipino BCTs that would serve in Korea from 1950 to 1955 under the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea or PEFTOK.

Over 7,400 Filipino soldiers served in Korea. Of this total, 112 were killed in defense of South Korea; some 400 were wounded while 16 Filipinos remain missing-in-action until today. The Philippines paid a heavy price as blood brother to South Korea.

Memorial Day
That’s why all of South Korea’s Ambassadors have attended somber ceremonies held every year in the Philippines on Sept. 7. This day was declared by the Philippine government in the year 2000 as “Korean War Veterans of the Philippines Memorial Day” to honor the role played by PEFTOK in the Korean War and in helping rebuild Korea.

South Korean Ambassadors salute the surviving PEFTOK veterans during commemorations held at the “Korean War Memorial Pylon” at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes) and thank the veterans for their service that helped make South Korea the nation it is today.

South Korea’s Ambassadors since 2008 -- Dr. Joong-Kyung Choi PhD; Hye Min Lee; Hyuk Lee, and current Ambassador, Jae Shin Kim -- have all attended ceremonies commemorating Korean War Veterans of the Philippines Memorial Day.

This, then, is the background that welcomes all of South Korea’s Ambassadors to the Philippines. And if you visit the newly re-designed website of the Korean Embassy, you’ll read a message from Ambassador Kim saying:

“It has been 66 years since Korea and the Philippines set up diplomatic relations. The Philippines sent about 7,400 soldiers during the Korean War and this alliance has become a foundation of the two country’s bilateral relationship.”

This acknowledgement recognizes the source of the deep historical bonds that unite South Korea and the Philippines. Those bonds have grown stronger during the past decade despite economic and political turmoil around the world.

Dr. Joong-Kyung Choi
Appointed Ambassador in 2008 when world financial markets were collapsing because of what has since been termed the “Great Recession,” Dr. Joong-Kyung Choi PhD brought with him his invaluable experience and political influence as South Korea's former first vice finance minister.

When he presented his credentials to former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he emphasized “my government's and my people's desire to usher in a new chapter in the Philippine-Korea relations.”

Dr. Choi apparently did just that and opened a new chapter over the next two years. He focused on boosting Korean investments in the Philippines; supporting small Philippine businesses and strengthening the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

During his term, there was a notable increase in Korean investments, military aid and official development assistance to the Philippines. This was accompanied by more aggressive promotion of cultural and people-to-people ties through the year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Philippine and Korea diplomatic relations in 2009.

Dr. Choi masterminded the “Multi-Industry-Cluster” (MIC) concept first implemented in northeastern Bohol. MIC combines several related industries into one contiguous region to facilitate operation support, cut costs and maximize resources. It has since become a template for South Korea’s assistance to the Philippines.

Before he left office in 2010, South Korea established MICs for agricultural development in six Philippine provinces. One of these provinces, Bohol, made Dr. Choi an “adopted son of Bohol” -- the first Ambassador conferred this honor by the province.

Dr. Choi is remembered with deep respect by Filipino veterans of the Korean War for setting in motion in 2009 the project that eventually led to the opening of the Philippine-Korean War Memorial Hall in 2012.

The Philippine-Korean War Memorial Hall is South Korea’s gift, and a gesture of gratitude, to the men of PEFTOK. Located inside this imposing building is the PEFTOK Korean War Museum, the first museum built specifically to enshrine the accomplishments of PEFTOK.

The Memorial Hall stands inside the Philippines-Korea Friendship Center, a 5,000 square meter piece of prime property along Bayani Road inside Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

The Memorandum of Agreement that gave rise to the Friendship Center was signed in May 2009 by Dr. Choi; former Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. and the late Brig. Gen. Victorino Azada, former President of the PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc.

The Philippines provided the lot while South Korea provided funds for the infrastructure. South Korean firms began work on the project in 2010.

Dr. Choi also turned over to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) 15 Cessna trainer aircraft that South Korea donated free to the PAF. This deal negotiated by a predecessor was the ninth defense exchange made by South Korea to the Armed Forces of the Philippines since 1993.

It was Dr. Choi who told PEFTOK veterans of his country’s plan to help the Philippines become a more prosperous nation, perhaps even a developed nation, by the 2030s.

When his term as Ambassador expired, Dr. Choi was conferred the Silver Distinction, Order of Datu Sikatuna, by Pres. Arroyo in recognition of his significant and outstanding contribution to the enhancement of Philippine and South Korean relations.

Pres. Arroyo paid a state visit to South Korea, her second, in May 2009 during Dr. Choi’s term as Ambassador.

Hye Min Lee
Dr. Choi’s successor, Hye Min Lee, also focused on increasing South Korean investments in the Philippines. Lee’s task was aided immensely by his working relationship with former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III whose late father, Senator Benigno Aquino, was sent to Korea and wrote about the Korean War as a War Correspondent for a leading Filipino newspaper.

Lee’s assiduous pursuit of Korean investments in 2012 helped bring about the largest ever Philippines-Korea Development Business Partnership Forum organized by Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), South Korea's state investment and trade agency.

At the time, KOTRA said Korea was the Philippines’ fifth largest trading partner and third largest investor.

Aquino conferred the Order of Sikatuna with a rank of Datu (Grand Cross, Gold Distinction) on Lee when the ambassador left the Philippines in September 2012.

Hyuk Lee
Ambassador Hyuk Lee, Hye Min Lee’s successor, fostered stronger military ties between South Korea and the Philippines amid the danger of war. He was praised by the administration of Pres. Aquino for facilitating different defense cooperation agreements between the Department of National Defense and South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense.

This was the time when tensions with China began to rise over China’s unlawful claim to own most of the South China Sea. In response, the Aquino administration decided to strengthen the Philippine military by purchasing arms and equipment from friendly foreign countries, including South Korea.

One of the largest big ticket arms purchases by the Aquino administration was the acquisition of 12 two-seat TA-50 jets developed by the South Korean aerospace firm Korea Aerospace Industries.

The 12 jets, which were renamed FA-50PH, were selected to fulfill the PAF's need for a light attack jet. The FA-50PH will also prepare Filipino pilots to fly modern jets such as the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon the PAF intends to purchase later on. 

The PAF has also said it plans to buy another 12 FA-50PHs. Two squadrons of this jet will allow the Philippines to mount a credible defense against China.

The FA-50PH is the first modern jet acquired by the PAF since the 1980s. Four of the jets are already flying with the PAF while the rest will be delivered by 2017.

Lee was also praised by the Philippine government for his key role in South Korea’s immediate assistance to the Philippines during Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines) in November 2013. This super typhoon that struck provinces in the Visayas region killed over 7,000 Filipinos and devastated the provinces it hit.

South Korea deployed 540 members of what it called the “Araw Unit” (The Sunshine Troops) consisting of soldiers from the Republic of Korea Armed Forces to Leyte in December. This unit provided humanitarian assistance and helped in the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts after Typhoon Yolanda struck.

The deployment of the Araw Unit was South Korea’s largest ever peacetime humanitarian mission.

Before he left in 2015, Lee said South Korea was the Philippines' fifth largest trading partner and accounted for about 25% of all foreign tourist arrivals annually. He noted there are over 100,000 Koreans living in the Philippines, while about 50,000 Filipinos live and work in South Korea.

Jae Shin Kim
After his appointment as ambassador in April 2015, Jae Shin Kim promised to do his utmost to further develop the bilateral relationship in every sector. He also pledged closer cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and urged the government to ensure the safety of Koreans in the Philippines.

Over a year later, Ambassador Kim said there have been some notable achievements in the defense industry, development assistance, personal interchange and cultural exchange between the Philippines and Korea.

He happily reported that apart from major Korean companies already operating in the Philippines, some 1,300 small and medium Korean businesses in various areas such as manufacturing industry, service industry, and research and development have set up shop here.

He revealed the number of Korean construction companies doing business here has risen and that Korean brand cosmetics and food stores are expanding their operations. Bilateral trade in 2014 hit $13.4 billion, with Korea becoming the Philippines’ fifth largest trading partner.

Koreans are also driving the growth of Philippine tourism. Some 1.4 million Korean tourists visited the Philippines in 2015. From January to August 2016, the number of Korean tourists reached some 977,000.

K-Pop, K-drama and K-culture continue their remarkable advance in the Philippines that apparently took root in the 21st century. In early November 2016, the K-Ribbon Selection (a collection of Korean cultural products) opened in Quezon City. The Korean Cultural Center said this was the first time the exhibit was held in another country.

“Many Filipinos like Korean culture, K-pop, Korean drama and movies … we are organizing this exhibition because it is one of the basic foundations of the friendship of two countries,” said Ambassador Kim.

The blood brothers – the Philippines and South Korea – have come a long way but remain blood brothers.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Sea levels are rising … and rising

THE YEAR 2017  was just three weeks old when international climate scientists issued a bombshell warning about the looming danger to the world from persistent sea level rise triggered by climate change.
A new study published in the peer reviewed scientific journal, Science, in January said countries will be inundated by sea levels that might rise to at least six meters (20 feet) in the future. It said this disaster won’t happen in our lifetime, mind you, and might take anywhere from 200 year to more than 2,000 years for it to occur.
What’s disconcerting about this news is it isn’t just another warning sea levels are indeed rising, but confirms sea level rise is the inevitable future for our planet Earth. Nothing is going to stop it.
And the question now -- especially for the Philippines -- is what people should do to mitigate the awful economic, social and security problems sea level rise is bringing in its train.
What led scientists to the startling conclusion sea levels are set to top six meters in the future was a deep look at the state of the Earth 125,000 years ago during the Last Interglacial Period. This was a time that saw the Earth’s last “warm period” almost similar to the one we have today.
Over 125,000 years ago, sea levels were six meters to nine meters higher compared to today’s levels. This knowledge led scientists to surmise the worst is yet to come, and that sea level rise will continue in the future -- and will get far, far worse.
And what does this warning mean for the Philippines?
Nature’s twin faces
It’s ironic to note that Nature is many times at its most beautiful in the Philippines. But there’s a reverse side to this beauty.
In the Philippines, nature can sometimes be at her most ferocious. The Philippines is the singular country in the world most devastated by typhoons every year.
From 2011 to 2015, an average of 19 typhoons entered our territory. In 2014 and 2015, 15 typhoons entered the Philippine area of responsibility in each of these years.
In 2013, 25 typhoons entered the Philippines, making the year the most typhoon-prone this century. One of these typhoons was the Category 5 Super Typhoon Called Haiyan or Yolanda that took the lives of over 6,000 Filipinos, mostly in the Visayas.
Typhoons have been increasing in severity since the start of the 21st century. Five of the 10 deadliest typhoons occurred this century and took the lives of 12,500 Filipino. Eight of the 10 most destructive typhoons ever recorded also occurred this century, and inflicted some PhP6 billion in damage.
To this unenviable record of pain, we must now add the devastating effects of global warming. Clearly, the most dangerous impact of global warming on the Philippine archipelago is sea level rise and the loss of land that is the direct result of this phenomenon.
Sea level rise is accelerated by climate change. It is no longer a clear and present danger in the Philippines but a grim and lethal reality.
The danger from sea level rise
Among all countries in the world, the Philippines has experienced the highest average increase in sea level rise at 60 centimeters. This is an astounding number.
It’s than three times higher than the global average of 19 centimeters based on records dating back to 1901, said the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
A recent United Nations report identified the Philippines as the most at-risk from climate change among all countries in the world.
Climate experts said extreme sea level rise has increased the Philippines’ vulnerability to natural disasters such as those wrought by more powerful typhoons and severe weather. Sadly, the Philippines is heavily affected by rising sea levels in other parts the world. The accelerated melting of glaciers in Antarctica is compounding this problem.
Then there is soil erosion caused by deforestation. Erosion damages infrastructure, property and businesses, especially fisheries. But the damage soil erosion inflicts on farming is massive, and the loss of irreplaceable topsoil to the seas costs tens of billions of dollars each year.
Erosion increases siltation that increases the severity of floods while damaging corals, fish populations and mangrove forests. Sediment flow into rivers and oceans caused by erosion contributes to rising sea levels.
We all know the loss of trees through illegal logging causes widespread erosion throughout the world. This was once true in the Philippines but the banning of logging nationwide in 2013 has helped curb erosion. The ban has also helped protect the mangrove forests that mediate the risks from coastal hazards such as storm surges.
The price to be paid
And what of the human cost of the unnatural rise in sea levels? Some 14 million Filipinos living in the coastal or low-lying areas will have to relocate to safer ground by 2050, said a study by the Asian Development Bank in 2012.
The Philippines has identified over 170 coastal towns in 10 provinces that will be submerged if the sea level rises by one meter.
Pity the Philippines that will bear some of the worst effects of global warming despite being the least polluting country among all countries in Southeast Asia.
The easterly wave flow of the Pacific Ocean also has something to do with the severity of sea level rise in the Philippines. But it is anthropogenic global warming and the increase in greenhouse gases that are mostly to blame for this looming catastrophe.
A recent study by two American universities said sea levels in the Philippines will continue to rise unless people around the world stop altering the climate. These people in other parts of the world, notably the world’s largest polluters such as China and the United States, are also among the world’s richest countries.
The worst of the calamities being triggered by climate change are expected 35 years or so from now. But the fuse that will ignite this catastrophe has been lit, and we can see its initial effects in the Philippines.
Take the island of Mindoro, for instance. Mindoro was a heavily forested and sparkling green island in the 1980s. Nature ruled the island.
The deforestation of Mindoro’s lush forests, however, has destroyed 90% of the island’s forest cover. Today, the sea laps at coconut trees that now stand at the new shoreline. Houses have been built further inland to escape the encroaching sea.
Mindoro today is among the provinces most vulnerable to sea level rise.
Internal refugees
Expert opinion says sea level rise is the inevitable result of an overall increase in greenhouse gas emissions -- mostly man-made -- and the subsequent heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The greatest impacts of sea level rise in the Philippines are similar to those faced by other countries under threat from this phenomenon. The only difference is the degree of severity.
In the Philippines, sea level rise will displace thousands of Filipinos from the homes, in effect making them internal refugees that will need state support. Over three-quarters of the Philippines’ population live along the coastlines of its many island provinces, at least 10 of which are extremely vulnerable to sea level rise.
As the Philippines continues to battle intractable poverty, the displacement of thousands of Filipinos – many of them poor – will hinder efforts to lift the poor out of poverty.
Equally devastating will be the loss arable land to the sea. The greatest damage won’t be caused by the ocean eating up the land but by the increased salinity in groundwater tables caused by seawater encroachment.
This salinity will cause much of the water supply and soil to become too salty to grow crops and support animal species.
Then there are the billions of pesos that will be lost due to damage to agriculture, infrastructure, industries and coastal zones.
Then we will have to develop a Plan B should the world’s campaign fail to limit global warming by the end of the century to two degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the pre-industrial level.
Scientists agree that two degrees Celsius is a threshold beyond which severe drought, rising seas and massive storms plus food and water security will become everyday challenges.
Mammoth solutions
These mammoth problems will demand mammoth solutions.
Some experts believe the Philippines needs to focus on climate adaptation and prepare better for more severe climate change. One UN expert said the Philippines can better adapt to climate change by changing the way structures are built in coastal areas.
What the Philippines needs are more resilient infrastructure that can better resist extreme events such as very strong rains and typhoons. These are very expensive solutions, however.
The government is doing important things to spread the word about the perils faced by the Philippines from sea level rise. A few years ago, the Department of Environment and National Resources organized a climate change office that has developed programs to educate communities in areas most at risk from sea level rise.
There is a government program that teaches communities to adapt to rising sea levels by ensuring that public spaces such as community halls and schools are not built near the coast.  More needs to be done at the national and local levels in the Philippines.
The national government must enlist the aid of the private sector in the fight against sea level rise. The fight against sea level rise is a matter of national survival. Everyone must be involved.

Friday, August 31, 2018

A challenge to Filipino youth: be among the First “Filipino Martians”

 (Published in Enrich magazine, 2018)

TODAY'S FILIPINO  TEENAGERS might want to consider launching themselves on a career that’s well and truly out of this world -- the first Filipino colonists on the planet Mars.

In other words, the first Filipino Martians. The trek to Mars will be extremely dangerous, and will probably be a one-way trip. But you’ll be part of humankind’s greatest adventure.

Once you get to Mars, you stay on Mars, however. That’s what’s in store for the first astronauts to land on Mars given the state of interplanetary travel. But further technological advances over the next 50 years will shift this objective to one where astronaut colonists will be rotated in and out of Mars.

The United States, NASA, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin and a slew of major space companies are committed to landing the fist humans on the Red Planet, which is 225 million kilometers away, on average. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, which will be responsible for the Mars missions, calculates a voyage to Mars will last about nine months at most.

As it stands today, SpaceX plans to land its first unmanned rocket on Mars in 2028. SpaceX, and not NASA, will land the first humans on Mars, hopefully in 2031. NASA plans to attain this feat by 2035.

The year 2031 is 13 long years away from 2018. This means Filipino teenagers now 13 years-old will be 26 by the time the first humans (mostly Americans) land on Mars in 2031.

These future Filipino Martians are now in high school and when these teenagers get to college sometime in the early 2020s, they might want to enroll in courses that better ensure their chances of being among the first humans to colonize Mars.

SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems are among the leading companies partnering with NASA to land humans on Mars. These private American firms are building the hardware (spaceships, landers) needed for this grand venture.

NASA, on the other hand, will train the astronauts who will risk their lives on the voyage to Mars, and on staying alive on this lethal, radiation-wracked, airless and deadly cold planet. The hit movie, “The Martian,” released in 2015 isn’t an accurate depiction of the dangers of colonial life on the Red Planet.

Astronaut requirements
The official NASA requirements for its Astronaut Candidates (non-piloting background) consist of:

* “Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics.

* “Degree must be followed by at least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience, or at least 1,000 pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.

“An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master’s degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience.

“Teaching experience, including experience at the K - 12 levels, is considered to be qualifying experience for the Astronaut Candidate position; provided degree is in a Science, Engineering, or Mathematics field.

* “Ability to pass the NASA long-duration Astronaut physical, which includes the following specific requirements:

- “Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20, each eye. The use of glasses is acceptable.
- “The refractive surgical procedures of the eye, PRK and LASIK, are allowed.”

Astronaut candidates must also have skills in leadership, teamwork and communications.

Unfortunately, you still have to be a U.S. citizen to be an astronaut candidate -- for now, at least.

The colonization of Mars, however, will be an international venture and adventure that will draw volunteers from many of the 193 countries in the world. This will mean ending or at least modifying the requirement for U.S. citizenship.

That’s good news for Pinoys that want to explore the final frontier in the future.
NASA, however, currently has astronaut positions for non-U.S. citizens. 

Filipinos can become astronauts and the way to do this is to become either an International Astronaut or Payload Specialist Astronaut.

“These astronaut positions do not require U.S. citizenship,” says NASA. 

“Payload specialists are persons other than NASA astronauts (pilots or mission specialists) whose presence is required on board the Space Shuttle to perform specialized functions related to the payload or other essential mission activities.”

It’s certain NASA will relax its astronaut candidate requirements as the missions to Mars forge ahead since the major objective of these missions won’t simply be to land a few humans on the Red Planet. The main goal of America’s Mars program, and that of other countries with similar ambitions such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will be to colonize Mars.

This magnificent objective will mean transporting thousands of humans to distant Mars. SpaceX plans to accomplish this by building hundreds of what it now calls the “BFR” or Big Falcon Rocket. Each BFR will carry over 100 humans to Mars. BFR, by the way, also stands for “Big F****** Rocket.”

SpaceX founder Elon Musk envisions hundreds of BFRs circling the Earth awaiting its passengers. Once fully loaded with colonists and supplies, the BFRs will blast-off towards Mars in large fleets numbering a hundred spaceships.
This, then, is the future awaiting the Filipino teenagers of today that aim to become Filipino Martians.

Why Mars?
This undying question’s been asked since NASA came into existence in 1958. The fact Mars “is there” waiting to be explored by the restless human race is often cited as a reason by those that champion manned missions to the Red Planet.

Others like renowned cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking warn that humankind faces extinction over the next 100 years unless it finds a way to colonize Mars or another planet (Venus or one of the Jovian moons?), and become a “multi-planetary species” in the process.

He also believes the Earth is becoming "increasingly precarious" due to threats arising from "climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth."

Musk has his reasons for spearheading the effort to colonize Mars.
“Humans need to be a multi-planetary species,” said Musk in 2015.

SpaceX was founded by Musk in 2002 with the aim of colonizing Mars, apart from slashing the cost of space transportation (which it’s successfully attained with its re-usable Falcon 9 Full-Thrust medium-lift launch vehicle).

In 2012, Musk revealed the awesome scope of his Martian ambitions -- he wants to ultimately build a colony housing 80,000 humans on Mars. Musk expects SpaceX to land astronauts on Mars by 2025, which is about a decade earlier than NASA’s timetable.

A massive colony of the size envisioned by Musk is expected to ensure the survival of humanity should a future extinction event such as a thermonuclear war or an asteroid strike wipe-out homo sapiens. Musk, however, is more concerned about a nuclear war than an asteroid impact.

Musk believes a nuclear war will inflict such indescribable damage on the Earth as to render the planet almost uninhabitable. He argues "an extinction event is inevitable."

"I don't think we can discount the possibility of a Third World War … Perhaps there's a complacency and arrogance in assuming this won't happen again."
There's also a moral imperative for colonizing Mars, claims Musk.

"It would be, I think sort of immoral not to (colonize Mars) if it meant preservation of life on Earth as we know it."

Musk, however, realizes his aim of colonizing Mars is only be possible if almost everything goes his way. He said landing on Mars in fewer than 10 years might not be possible.

Interestingly, he said reaching the 2025 deadline not only requires that everything goes according to plan, but that SpaceX "get lucky."

Musk believes it won’t be difficult to find volunteers that will make the dangerous sojourn to Mars. He said the Martian pioneers will find the going "hard, risky, dangerous, difficult." There's also the risk of complete failure and deaths among the pioneers.

"The first mission wouldn't have a huge number of people on it because if something goes wrong, we want to risk the least number of lives as possible," he said.

He noted that "probably people will die." Those deaths, however, will "pave the way" toward his vision that "ultimately, it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will be very comfortable."

SpaceX’s timeline to Mars
Reusable SpaceX rockets will make successive trips to space quite cheap compared to what the U.S. government pays other launch providers such as the United Launch Alliance. That's also why Musk pushed hard to reuse the first stage of his Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

SpaceX aspires to launch the first BFR Mars-bound cargo flights as early as 2022. This will be followed by the first BFR flight with passengers in 2024.
After the Mars landing, the key challenge facing SpaceX will be establishing a logistics lifeline to ensure the survival of the company's Martian colonists. This mission will involve establishing a regular supply run from Earth to Mars.

"Essentially what we're saying is we're establishing a cargo route to Mars," said Musk.

"It's a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It's going happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station.

"And if scientists around the world know that they can count on that, and it's going to be inexpensive, relatively speaking compared to anything in the past, then they will plan accordingly and come up with a lot of great experiments."
Musk expounded more about SpaceX’s goals for a Mars mission in October 2017.

“Our goal is get you there and ensure the basic infrastructure for propellant production and survival is in place,” said Musk.

“A rough analogy is that we are trying to build the equivalent of the transcontinental railway. A vast amount of industry will need to be built on Mars by many other companies and millions of people.”

BFR will make the trip to Mars every two years when the Earth and Mars are at their closest. If all goes well, the first human landing on Mars will take place in 2025, said Musk.

He said that fully colonizing Mars will demand 1,000 spaceships, an astounding number that might only be realized by the 22nd century. These Mars-bound spaceships will orbit the Earth as they take in colonists and supplies.

Every 26 months or so when Earth and Mars are favorably aligned, hundreds of these spaceships will blast-off towards Mars at the same time. That should make for a fantastic sight.

Musk believes each ship should carry at least 100 persons and that the three to nine month-long journey to Mars “should be fun.”

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Arabs Shoot for Mars -- and the Stars

In case you missed it (and we’re sure a lot of people did), the race for Mars is being waged by that ageless United States space agency called NASA; that visionary “Martian” named Elon Musk and his “space taxi” company, SpaceX -- and the United Arab Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates?

Unknown to most of the world at large, the UAE is the only other country besides the United States with deep designs on landing humans on Mars, and the deep pockets to make its Martian ambitions a reality. Over the past two years, the cash-flush UAE has made its presence felt in a very big way in the very exclusive club of nine countries that have space programs aimed at sending satellites, surface probes or humans to Mars.

The UAE burst onto the world’s consciousness as a space power powered by money in July 2014 when it announced its other worldly goal of sending the first Arab spacecraft to another planet -- Mars -- in 2021.

The “Emirates Mars Mission Hope Journey” will launch a spacecraft named “Hope” towards Mars in July 2020. The spacecraft is scheduled to begin orbiting Mars in 2021, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE on Dec. 2, 1971.

Hope will take 200 days to make the 60 million kilometer journey to the Red Planet. Once in orbit, Hope will study the atmosphere and climate of Mars, and will produce the first truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere, about which very little is known.

This compact, hexagonal-section spacecraft will carry three scientific instruments to attain these aims: the Emirates Exploration Imager for high-resolution images; the Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer to study temperature, ice, water vapor and dust in the atmosphere and the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer to study the atmosphere and search for traces of oxygen and hydrogen in space.

The Mars mission will be an incredible gamble verging on the reckless for the UAE, which has no previous experience in deep space missions such as the one it plans for Mars.

The UAE, however, does have immense experience in building and running Earth orbiting satellites, of which it has four in orbit. It said its investments in space technologies exceed US$5.4 billion. But this huge sum went to communications satellites; mobile satellite communications and Earth mapping and observation.

Hope, which will be lofted on a NASA launch vehicle, will be run by the UAE Space Agency (UAESA).

The stunning declaration to send a research satellite to Mars was made by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir of Dubai. Dubai is one of the seven emirates comprising the UAE, while Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid is also the Prime Minister of the UAE.

Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid said the Muslim Mars mission will prove the Arab world remains capable of delivering scientific contributions to humanity despite the many conflicts in the Middle East involving Muslims.

"Our region is a region of civilization," said Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid. "Our destiny is, once again, to explore, to create, to build and to civilize."

He said Dubai chose the immense challenge of reaching Mars because it inspires and motivates its citizens. It’s an outlook similar to that of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy whose challenge in 1960 to the USA to land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s inspired the USA to achieve just that.

Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Emir of Abu Dhabi, said the Mars mission "represents the Islamic world's entry into the era of space exploration."

Money for NASA
The UAE, which is a close ally of the U.S., has also kept the American space program alive with generous funding. In June 2016, the UAE agreed to fund a number of NASA space exploration projects, including NASA’s historic first manned landing on Mars of a multinational crew set for 2035.

The U.S. and the UAE announced an agreement that will allow them to collaborate on matters of space and aeronautics research. The deal includes voyages to Mars in support of the UAE's own Mars landing project and NASA's manned landing program.

NASA and UAESA formalized cooperation in the exploration of Mars by signing an implementing arrangement establishing a joint steering group to guide discussions about potential future projects that contribute to exploring Mars.

"NASA is leading an ambitious journey to Mars that includes partnerships with the private sector and many international partners," said former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

"I am confident this new framework agreement with the UAE Space Agency will help advance this journey, as well as other endeavors in the peaceful exploration of outer space."

NASA is concerned it won't have the money to support its future manned space programs and its financial woes are no secret. The Obama Administration's new federal budget submitted in February 2016 proposes to cut NASA's fiscal year 2017 Budget to $19 billion, or $300 million less than its current budget. This picture might not improve under the Trump administration.

The deepest budget cuts will hit NASA's deep space exploration programs, hence the importance of the new partnership with the UAE. Without sufficient and reliable funding for its space exploration programs, NASA fears America's leadership in space and space science will slide into irrevocable decline. The deal with the UAE could be a life saver for NASA.

There has been no word, however, on the amount of funding the UAE is prepared to commit in support of NASA's space exploration programs.

"The reason why cooperation and collaboration are important to the UAESA is because we believe that working alongside international partners is the best way to accelerate the development of space technologies and the space sector within the UAE," said UAESA Chairman Dr. Khalifa Al Romaithi.

"This agreement opens the door to the creation of a wide range of mutually beneficial programs and activities involving numerous organizations within the UAE and the USA."

City on Mars
But the UAE’s grandest dream for Mars is also the grandest dream to date put forward by any person or any nation.

The UAE plans on becoming the first country on Earth to build the first habitable city on Mars. It plans to do this by 2117.

This stunning announcement made in Dubai on Feb. 14 is by far the boldest plan yet for the human colonization of Mars, dwarfing anything Elon Musk or NASA have made public.

The UAE plans to build a Martian city housing thousands of colonists as part of its Mars 2117 Project, which will be implemented in collaboration with specialized international organizations and scientific institutes. The Mars 2117 Project was made public by Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid and Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed.

"The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality," said Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid.

A virtual presentation depicting a preliminary concept for the City on Mars was made during the announcement in Dubai at a meeting of the UAE-sponsored World Government Summit in February.

The first human City on Mars will be built by robots, according to the concept put forward by an Emirati team of engineers and a group of scientists assisting them. Their presentation also revealed a concept for the expected lifestyle on Mars; modes of transport; methods for producing power and plans for growing food. It also focused on infrastructure building and revealed the materials the UAE plans to use for building the Earth’s first City on Mars.

UAE officials said the scientific initiatives for the 2117 Mars project will first be implemented by an Emirati scientific team. The project will eventually be expanded to include international scientists and researchers.

Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid said the UAE is among the nine most important countries in the world that invest in space science.

"Human ambitions have no limits, and whoever looks into the scientific breakthroughs in the current century believes that human abilities can realize the most important human dream," he noted. "The new project is a seed that we are planting today, and we expect the next generations to reap its fruits."
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed explained that the short-term goal is to develop the capacities and skills of Emiratis.

"The 2117 Mars initiative is a long-term project, which will first help develop our education, universities and research centers that will empower young Emiratis to enter all disciplines of scientific research fields," he noted.
"The findings of the project will be available to all international research institutes."

He noted that research developed by the 2117 Mars initiative will contribute to aspects of transportation, energy and food to achieve scientific breakthroughs that also contribute to developing human life on Earth.

"The UAE has become part of dynamic human scientific efforts to explore space and making scientific contributions to human knowledge," said Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed.

"With the launch of this project, we begin a new journey that will last for decades to come, and it will speed up human endeavors to explore other planets."

Friday, April 6, 2018

The new normal: doing more with less through energy efficiency

(Published in the ECCP Business Review, July 2012)

LIKE A BEAM OF LED light reaching out farther as it becomes more powerful, the 3rd Philippine Energy Efficiency Forum (PEEF) this July ranged wider and partnered with more companies, financial institutions and government agencies to attain the common aim of institutionalizing the practice of energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency or using less energy remains the cheapest form of power available to business firms. It also serves as the foundation of a grand design crafted by the government and the private sector to increase the Philippines' use of renewable or sustainable energy as a hedge against future power crises.

The expanded breadth of today energy efficiency campaign was reflected in the theme of the 3rd PEEF: “Driving Efficiency and Competitiveness Across the Power Sector Value Chain.”

PEEF’s major goal over the past three years has been to promote the national effort towards energy supply security, increased competitiveness and low carbon economic growth through energy efficiency.

Unlike its predecessors, however, the 3rd PEEF focused on energy efficiency from the perspective of business firms (who are huge energy users) along the energy value chain, from generation through transmission and distribution to the plug. New to this year’s PEEF were the separate Technical Briefings where sponsors, energy technology companies and exhibitors presented their unique energy efficiency solutions. The new business matching sessions were a success, as was the widely visited product exhibition.

As noted by Hubert D'Aboville, outgoing President of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) in his welcoming remarks, the forum reaffirms that energy efficiency has the potential for ". . . huge savings in total power use and large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions."

"The return on investment from energy efficiency will benefit the whole country," he said.

He added that the private sector and the government are able to do more and operate more efficiently with limited resources through energy efficiency.

D'Aboville acknowledged the firms and institutions that have partnered with ECCP in promoting PEEF since the start of the chamber's energy efficiency campaign three years ago.

PEEF is the first forum in the Philippines that focuses exclusively on energy efficiency.  It supports the Energy Smart Program that aims to encourage the greater application of resources for energy efficiency among business enterprises and to maximize the full potential of energy efficiency for business.

The five Founding Sponsors are Philips Electronics & Lighting Inc., Philippines, First Gen Corporation, Meralco, Schneider Electric Philippines, Inc., and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation.

The founding Energy Smart Program Partners are Paris Manila Technology Corporation; First Gen Corporation; Schneider Electric Philippines, Inc.; Philips Electronics & Lighting Inc., Philippines; Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation; Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel; Jardine Energy Control, Inc.; Royal Cargo Combined Logistics, Inc.; Theuer Eurolighting Consultancy Corporation and Maschinen & Technik, Inc.

“Energy efficiency is key to enhancing business competitiveness,” Schumacher pointed out during the 1st PEEF in 2010. That bold statement has been made all the more urgent by current realities that include steadily rising electricity prices and the unstable world economy.

To attain the goals of PEEF, companies must indeed “Think energy efficiency.”

D’Aboville made special mention of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that hascooperated with ECCP on advancing energy efficiency in the Philippines from the beginning and is expected to continue working with ECCP (at least) until 2015.

Henry Schumacher, ECCP Executive Vice President, said the issues driving PEEF today remain similar to those when the first forum was held in 2010: expensive electricity; the threat of roving blackouts; the phasing out of power subsidies for PEZA locators in Luzon and how businesses can cut power costs.

"All these issues lead us to see the importance of energy efficiency," he pointed out. "Energy efficiency is as important today and tomorrow as it was yesterday."

Public sector leadership
Undersecretary Loreta Ayson of the Department of Energy(DoE), representing Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, had some good news – somewhat -- for price-battered consumers of Asia's most expensive electricity.

The proposed Energy Conservation Law long championed by the ECCP has been presented to Congress but returned to DoE for “some tweaking” since it was “too detailed.”Once the revised bill is submitted to both Houses of Congress, she expects the law to be enacted soon, but indicated no specific time frame. The law’s implementing rules and regulations have been completed.

The law, which was first proposed in 2005, promotes energy efficiency and energy conservation initiatives. DoE said the proposed regulatory framework for both energy efficiency and energy conservation will be the policy pathway for abating the Philippines’ emissions ofgreenhouse gas (GhG), a major cause of global warming.

The law’s energy efficiency measures help diminish the need for more and expensive power plants while also encouraging investors into developing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy in return for a guaranteed Feed-in Tariff (FIT).

Ayson also said the very long-awaited FIT is close to implementation.

“The FIT rules are being refined to boost the development and production of renewable energy,” she said.

Two weeks after 3rd PEEF, the government issued the approved FIT tariffs, but at rates much lower than that needed by renewable energy developers.

The Energy Regulatory Commission approved these FITs: P9.68 per kilowatt hour for solar (lower than the P17.95 per kWh applied for); P8.53 per kWh for wind (from P10.37 per kWh) P6.63 per kWh for biomass (from P7.00 per kWh) and P5.90 per kWh for hydro (from P6.15 per kWh).

She pointed out that increasing the share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix was one of the government’s three major initiatives in its energy strategy.

“If we have no access to sustainable energy, there is no economic development,” she said.

Sustainable energy will play a key role in the government’s plans to “electrify” 90% of Filipino households by 2017 and 100% of households by 2025.She made reference to the DOE’s SPUG program and added that the supply of energy to SPUG areas would eventually be privatized.

“Energy access is the foundation for addressing poverty alleviation,” she emphasized.

Energy management a must
They’re among the biggest users and wasters of electricity, and count among the top emitters of GhG. Paradoxically, these culprits are quite suitable targets for a proven energy efficiency solution: energy management. Buildings are both the bane and boon to energy efficiency efforts. 

Philippe Reveilhac, Country President of Schneider Electric Phils., Inc., noted that buildings occupy a fifth of the Earth’s surface but account for 80% of CO2 emissions. They are mostly inefficient users of electricity.

Reveilhac revealed that out of 100 units of power generated by fossil fuels, buildings only use 22% efficiently. The rest of the energy is wasted.

“This is the energy efficiency dilemma,” he said. “The solution is either to produce more electricity or consume less.”

Given the inefficiency of the power generation and distribution networks, the former option is unacceptable. For the latter to contribute meaningfully to energy efficiency, however, means that energy use has to be managed throughout the entire building.

Energy management solutions such as Schneider Electric’s “EcoStruxure” have proven capable of efficiently managing power and significantly cutting costs. He noted that Schneider Electric’s world headquarters in Paris, the first ISO50001 certified building in the world, has reduced its final energy consumption by a fourth by using EcoStruxure.

“EcoStruxure is a single backbone that controls and monitors energy use in a building, including renewable energy,” he said. “The basis of a successful energy efficiency program is to implement an energy management system.”

Implementing an energy management system such as EcoStruxure can significantly minimize a building’s operating costs, which account for some 75% of the life cycle cost of a building. It also does away with uncoordinated energy efficiency solutions thatare not as effective as a single solution.

He said energy management systems will also enable high performance green buildings and smart cities.

Turbines and LNG
Emmanuel Gesmundo, Vice President, Energy of Siemens, Inc., presented his company’s various turbine products as solutions for enhancing the efficiency of power plants.

He noted that four megatrends are shaping the future of the planet: urbanization, demographic change, climate change and globalization. Taken together, these megatrends are increasing the demands for energy that must be met by building more energy efficient power plants.

Among Siemens’ energy efficiency innovations for power plants are the H-class gas turbine, Direct Drive 6 MW, gas turbine upgrades and smart grids.

Edgar Chua, Country Chairman, Shell companies in the Philippines, argued we need all the energy we can get because of the booming world population (seven billion as of 2011) andrising affluence (more demand for computers, cars and household appliances).

These factors will contribute to energy demand doubling by 2050, but there will also be the seemingly impossible demand to halve CO2 levels at the same time.

Shell’s answer to this conundrum:  smarter energy and cleaner energy.

Shell is one of the world’s largest distributors of biofuels, which Shell sees as the most practical, commercial solution to reduce CO2 emissions over the next 20 years from road transport fuels. Chua said fuel efficiency is key to savings since fuel constitutes some 20% to 25% of operating costs for transport companies.

Shell is pushing liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a transportation fuel since this is cleaner energy and can provide energy security through flexibility and diversification.

“We power the country’s future,” Chua said in referring to Shell’s Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power Project.

Malampaya, the Philippines’ first major domestic upstream hydrocarbon production project, meets up to 45% of Luzon’s power generation requirements or a total of 2,700 megawatts.

“Natural gas is the cleanest and most efficient fossil fuel with least amounts of CO2,” Chua noted.

Smart grids
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) reported on major developments in the country’s power grid and on its initiatives to improve the efficiency of power transmission and distribution systems.

Redi Remoroza, Head, Luzon System Planning Division, said major developments in the Luzon Grid include a 230 kV backbone extension and line reinforcements in Northern Luzon for completion by 2015 and the installation by 2013of new transformers in the DasmariƱas and Tayabas 500/230 kV substations for increased reliability.

In the Visayas Grid, a major project is the Cebu-Negros-Panay 230 kV backbone development to accommodate bulk capacity additions in Panay. The project, however, is still subject to regulatory approval and will be implemented in stages involving initial energization to 138 kV.There are also line reinforcements in Cebu to exploit the full capacity of new coal-fired plants.

A primary project in the Mindanao Grid being studied is the interconnection with the Visayas Grid for power exchange. A feasibility study is ongoing and should be completed by March 2013.

Meralco’s efforts to improve energy efficiency on the customer side involve identifying opportunities to achieve this goal. Alfredo Panlilio, Senior Vice-President and Head, Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications, said this includeswider adoption of the time-of-use method (particularly advantageous for business firms, manufacturing plants and BPO companies); the Smart Grid that improves a customer’s ability to manage his power consumption and “prepaid electricity,” which is similar in concept to prepaid phone cards.

“Good power quality equals higher energy efficiency,” said Panlilio.

Another of Meralco’s energy efficiency advocacies is encouraging the use of more electric vehicles by building charging stations, the first of which will become operational this year for electric tricycles.

Meralco’s continuing push for energy efficiency is also being driven by the massive size of its customer base: 5 million customers, half of which belong to the “C” market.

What Meralco has undertaken is a “. . . 360 degree turn in the use of energy efficiency and conservation. We have not only one but multiple solutions to the challenge of energy efficiency and these solutions are persistent, consistent and unwavering.”

Giving customers a choice
Iloilo Electric Cooprrative-1 (ILECO-1) supplies power to 109,000 in 15towns in Southern Iloilo. It is a consistent “Category A+” electric cooperative and was recently awarded the “Diamond Award” by the National Electrification Administration for its outstanding performance.

General Manager Wilfred Billenanoted that retail competition and open access once declared will bring the power of choice to consumers, moving from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market.ILECO-1 has partnered with one of its electricity providers, Green Core Geothermal, Inc., to pass on to consumers the benefits resulting from the new buyer’s market.

“Competition at the wholesale level gives ILECO-l increased value,” said Billena.

He noted that competition began with the privatization of the power generation sector by EPIRA and is continuing with the entry of new technologies such as smart grid monitoring systems which will be implemented in 2013.

The pass on benefits to end consumers caused by competition include clean energy that is competitively priced, stable and VAT free. Prices will also be kept in check since ILECO-l has one of the lowest system loss figures in the Philippines.

Distributed generation
The rise of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy has given rise to distributed generation (DG), which, in turn, can also benefit from energy efficiency.

DG is a way to produce power with a small-scale generator on the customer’s site or at the site of a local distribution utility, and then supply power to the local distribution network directly.

Jessie Todoc, Program Manager, Energy Access & Alternative Energy of the International Copper Association-Southeast Asia, said the ICA seeks partnerships for clean energy programs.

It supports clean energy policies, standards, regulations; develops clean energy technologies and
Disseminates clean energy solutions.

Copper is a key contributor to sustainable energy and is a reference conductor, hence its importance to distributed generation or to other forms of electricity generation.

“Distributed generation is now driven by climate change and smart grids,” he said.

He pointed out that the benefits of distributed generation include cost reductions; reduction of losses in the distribution system; GHG emissions reductions and deferral of transmission and distribution systems upgrades.

There is, however, a need for an attractive pricing policy and interconnection policies and standards to realize these benefits.

Funding energy efficiency
Yes, there is funding available for companies that go for energy efficiency projects, and this thanks to the confidence shown in the Philippines by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Jesse Ang, Resident Representative, IFC Philippines, said IFC has financed energy efficiency and renewable energy projects here worth over P7 billion.

“There are several billion pesos worth of projects under preparation and this number is growing,” he said.

These projects range from small building retrofits (lighting + HVAC) to new green buildings and RE projects. IFC clients for its energy efficiency funds include commercial buildings, industrial facilities, ESCOs and captive and independent power/energy producers.

There is a considerable focus on financing on converting non-energy efficient buildings sincethey are enormous wasters of electricity. If faced with a choice between an energy efficiency retrofit with a short payback period or a long-term investment in a total energy efficiency solution, however, IFC recommends builders take the latter option.

Office buildings in the Philippines generally show a higher power consumption of up to 22 percent compared to similar countries because of insufficient energy efficiency installations.

“Ideally the best solution . . . is to make your building energy efficient from the very beginning,” Ang said. “In general, you should build buildings for energy efficiency.”

Ang sees huge local potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that can be financed through the bank’s Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF) portfolio.IFC has extended its network of partner banks providing financing to energy efficiency investors to include Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), BPI BanKo Savings Bank, Banco de Oro and China Banking Corporation.

Addressing climate change and environmental and social sustainability activities is one of IFC’s five strategic priorities for maximizing its sustainable development.

Another IFC manager, Noel Verdote, Operations Officer, Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF) Phils., Inc. said commercial buildings accounted for 29% of the 50.9GW of powerconsumed by the Philippines. Malls were the largest electricity users followed by hospitals, hotels and office buildings.

Verdote said malls and office buildings have highest potential for energy efficiency investment requirements, which is placed at some P9.8 billion.

The average potential savings are estimated at 20% and while the requirement per GWh to be saved on lighting retrofits, air conditioning upgrades, insulation improvements and better control systems comes to P15 million.

Energy efficiency opportunities in the commercial sector are estimated at 2,950 GWh/yr (out of the 14,746GWh) and the required minimum investment stands atP44 billion.

Industrial companies can save considerable sums from their energy efficiency projects by the simple expedient of using more energy efficient motors and drives.

William Beloe, Program Manager, China Energy Efficiency Finance Program for the IFC, compared energy efficiency in the Philippines, China and India.

He revealed that energy efficiency in Philippines is two times more efficient than China. Both the Philippines and India, however, rely heavily on energy imports for domestic energy use. The Philippines is four times more dependent on energy imports than China, while India three times more reliant than China.

A key factor that makes energy efficiency more urgent for the Philippines is that the Philippines in 2011 overtook Japan for the dubious honor of having the most expensive electricity in Asia.

Unfortunately for the Philippines, “. . . energy efficiency isn’t a sector. It’s a window on the market,” said Beloe.

This lower status might complicate efforts to give energy efficiency the prominence it deserves.

IFC, a subsidiary of the World Bank, is the only global multilateral institution focused exclusively on the private sector and bills itself as the global leader in private sector development finance. It provides equity, loans, guarantees and other investments.

Energy efficient drives
Jojo Mendoza, Senior Manager for Country Business Development of ABB, Inc., said his company’s variable frequency drives help its customers increase industrial productivity and lower environmental impact in a sustainable way.

The savings generated by variable frequency drives is considerable since industries account for around 1/3 of world’s final energy demand and 60% of industrial demand in developing countries. And there seems to be a clear recognition among industrial companies of the advantages to be had by being more energy efficient.

He cited a survey in which 53% of respondents agreed strongly that energy efficiency will be critical factor in the profitability of manufacturers. A further 33% agree energy efficiency will be critical success factor for manufacturers.

“The installed base of ABB Drives saved 310 million megawatt hours in 2011, equivalent to the yearly consumption of about 75 million EU households,” Mendoza said. “In terms of CO2 reduction, these savings equate to 260 million tons, more than the yearly emissions of over 65 million cars.”

More than lighting
Gilbert Ong, Manager Lighting Applications Support, Philips Electronics and Lighting, Inc. surprisingly identified Philips as a “well-being and health company.” And he then explained why.

“Light is not enough especially for a workplace,” Ong explained. “We spend a third of our lives and ordinary light will not do.”

To prevent eyestrain and promote well-being, Ong recommends combining high-performance luminaires such as those made by his company and good lighting design practices. Philips believes in using the right lighting in both the office & industrial environment.

“Light is productivity,” he said. “Effective lighting not only keeps people alert and focused, it also lights up their tasks and helps improve performance, productivity and output. It also minimizes the strain on the eyes of employees.”

He said that Philips believes that providing the right illumination should be complemented by high performance luminaires, daylight integration and controls and appropriate light levels.

Together, these will promote a healthy working environment; increase productivity and significantly save energy.

He also batted for increasing energy savings by using LEDs that last longer and are low maintenance. Using LEDs also allow flexibility by providing controls in lighting and daylight controls.

Power quality counts
The problem of poor power quality, while threatening, largely goes unnoticed.  In the USA, wastage caused by the range of PQ phenomena resulted in losses estimated at US$188 billion in 2000, said Raymond Marquez, Chairman, Steering Committee of the Asian Power Quality Initiative Philippines. The PQ problem has since worsened.

To combat this, there is the “Leonardo Power Quality Initiative” and its regional counterpart, the “Asian Power Quality Initiative (APQI).”

Marquez said APQI is currently conducting a Philippine-wide PQ loss survey to determine the extent of the PQ problem. The survey is collecting data on the economic implications of PQ parameters: voltage dips, short interruptions and voltage waveform quality. It is also gathering
data on the methods of assessing these costs.

The survey includes companies in the semiconductor, glass manufacturing, food manufacturing and plastics industries. It is expected to be completed this August.

PEZA: all out for energy efficiency
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) plans to expand the PEP to include energy efficiency, said Tereso Panga, PEZA Deputy Director General.

“Energy management is no longer an option, but should now be a vital component of every business undertaking in response to the continued energy and environmental challenges that lie ahead,” he said.

He added that PEZA is promoting energy efficiency to rationalize costs forits 2,625 locators companies and make its 252 ecozones across the country more competitive. Investments in PEZA ecozones amounted to P1.995 trillion from 1995 to 2011.

PEZA believes energy efficiency is a component of eco-industrial development. In this context, energy efficiency means the optimum procurement and utilization of energy by minimizing energy costs and waste without affecting production and quality while minimizing environmental effects.

PEZA’s energy management initiatives include a scheme on retail competition and open access; a proposed ecozone solar facility in public ecozones and an energy management program in cooperation with ECCP’s Energy SMART Program, which foresees that PEZA will ‘encourage’ locators to invest in energy efficiency with the assistance of Energy SMART service providers.

Energy efficiency in government
The national government has much good news to report in its own energy efficiency initiatives. Evelyn Reyes, Director, Energy Utilization & Management Bureau under the DoE said the government is upgrading energy efficiency of government buildings under the Government Energy Management Program (GEMP).

The program aims to reduce annual consumption of electricity and transport petroleum products by at least 10%.

From September 2005 to December 2011, Reyes said the government was able to save
P1.6 Billion in electricity and P259 million in transport fuel through Energy Conservation Programs by each government entity and the formation of Energy Audit Teams.

She also noted the government had a second program, the Philippine Energy Efficiency Project (PEEP), which consists of an efficient lighting initiative that includes a retrofit of government office buildings and a green building initiative.

Standard required
Institutionalizing an energy management system such as ISO 50001 faces many challenges, said Richard Saing, UNIDO Project Coordinator, Philippine Industrial Energy Efficiency Project.

“The biggest problem is that energy efficiency is not integrated into daily management practices,” he noted.

The solution, he believes, is that top management needs to be engaged in the management of energy on a continual basis, and the employment of Energy Managers. Hence, the need for a standard such as ISO 50001.

“UNIDO is introducing the ISO 50001 energy management system along with system optimization approach for the improvement of industrial energy efficiency in the Philippines,” he revealed.

Among other key objectives, the project will integrate energy efficiency into management systems of industrial enterprises through energy management standards to accelerate adoption of energy efficient best practices on continuous basis.

The project’s expected national environmental benefits during its 10-year life include steam savings of 6,071,000 Gigajoules and energy savings equivalent to 2,057,755 MWh.

It also expects electricity savings equivalent to 969,203 tCO2e and fuel savings equivalent to 489,930 tCO2e.

“In the end, an energy management system is about continual improvement. It’s all about reducing energy costs,” he said.

In conclusion, the 3rd PEEF was a great success, raising the awareness of what energy efficiency can do for the competitiveness of companies and the country.

It became obvious that more stakeholders in the energy value chain are willing to invest in energy efficiency, But it was also clear that government should provide ‘carrots and sticks’ in driving energy efficiency and energy conservation.