Piki Lopez agrees with Bongbong Marcos: We need natural gas as bridge fuel in transition to wind and energy

The head of the Lopez family concurs with President Bongbong Marcos on the importance of natural gas in shifting electricity sources from dirty fuel to renewable energy (RE).

“President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. correctly points out the need for a low-carbon emission fuel like natural gas to act as the bridge fuel that’s technically more suited for complementing the variable nature of RE,” said bilyonaryo Federico “Piki” Lopez, chairman and CEO of Lopez Holdings in a presentation during a climate and disaster emergency policy forum on September 22.

In his State of the Nation Address in July, Marcos underscored the importance of natural gas in his power reforms

“We will provide investment incentives by clarifying the uncertain policy in upstream gas, particularly in the area close to Malampaya. This requires clarification of the processes and review of service contracts policy,” said Marcos who was recently praised by United State President Joe for the “work he did on windmills.

“The country’s biggest wind farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte is owned by the Lopez family.”

Lopez, who also heads First Philippine Holdings and First Gen, said an ample supply of natural gas, on top of the continued development of hydro and geothermal power sources, would ensure stable and affordable electricity prices while the country transitioned to solar and wind power.

“Their variable and intermittent nature necessitates that we match them with more storage to account for the fact that they’re not there when night falls or on cloudy or windless days. However, batteries are only capable of running 3-4 hours and thus fall short of fully providing power for the 10-12 hours before the sun rises or the stretches of cloudy or windless days or even weeks,” said Lopez.

Cleaning up the sources of the country’s electricity grid is one of cornerstones cited by Lopez as crucial to solving climate change or reducing carbon dioxide emissions back to 1986 level of 350 parts per million within the next 28 years.

The other four linchpins are scaling up energy efficiency efforts; electrify everything from transport to industrial process; use carbon-neutral fuels such as green hydrogen and green ammonia for sectors that cannot be electrified; and deploy carbon carbon capture use and storage.

“Over time as more clean energy and storage is added into our grids, we must look toward decommissioning our fossil fuel powered plants: first the coal plants, and then ultimately the oil and natural gas plants. For the latter, they can either be repowered with green fuels like hydrogen as they become feasible in the coming decade or outright decommissioned before 2050, similar to the process done for the coal plants earlier. We ought to keep an eye out for international funding for decommissioning these plants earlier than their useful lives. Such funds are increasingly becoming more available,” said Lopez.

Lopez also pushed for the debottlenecking of the transmission grid and provision of ancillary or back up power to prevent stranding power investments.

“The global energy transition appears straightforward when viewed from its five cornerstones. However, they have immense implications for the central role of the electricity grid. The most important point is that by 2050 we will need 5 times the electricity we use today; and we will need 10-12 times the clean energy in use today,” said Lopez.

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