LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines — About 1.1 billion people worldwide continue to suffer from "energy poverty," a noted scientist and university administrator has said.
"With a current world population of 7.8 billion, the gargantuan challenge we have to face is ensuring the universal access to affordable and clean energy," stressed chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr. of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
He cited World Bank (WB) data stating that 1.1 billion people still have no access to electricity.
"Now, the road to ending energy poverty is a long one, but we must recognize that developing technologies is only half the battle won," he said, adding it is important to create an enabling environment so that communities in need have access to these technologies.
Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. of the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture said SEARCA is "focused on resource-poor farmers and how to get technologies to them."
UPLB and SEARCA jointly organized the "MES 18 Travelling Conference" held Feb. 26 at SEARCA together with the Technical University of Berlin (TUB)-Microenergy Systems (MES) group. The conference was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
The Los Baños forum was the third and final leg of the roving workshops, which had earlier been held in Indonesia and Singapore.
Saguiguit said the workshop was attended by 40 scientists and academics from TUB-MES, SEARCA, UPLB and Elena International, and was aimed to establish a platform for knowledge exchange and find potential collaboration between Germany and the Southeast Asian region.
"SEARCA could serve as a window for German institutions to work and contribute to the development of Southeast Asia's agriculture and rural development," he said.
The center's umbrella program on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation for Southeast Asia, he said, serves as a platform for collaboration between Germany and Southeast Asian countries, particularly the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.
The German scientists and academics who served as workshop resource persons included Sabine Auer, Christina Horn, Henrick Beerman, Georg Eyhorn, Florian Weiss, Bobby Xiong and Tim Sternkopf.
The Filipino speakers were UPLB vice chancellor Rex Demafelis, Kristel Mae Villasin and Viava Jane Africa.
Sanchez, in his energy data-rich message, discussed what he called "decentralized energy," which has the potential of reducing carbon emissions and minimizing transmission losses.
"The Philippines stands to gain much from decentralized energy," he said. As it is, the country experiences an average of 2,700 minutes (20 occurrences) of power outage per year.
In contrast, the United States and European Union countries suffer much less outages – 244 or 1.5 times a year in the US and 0.5-2.2 times in the EU.
The irony, Sanchez said, is that the Philippines has potential to be a leader in clean and renewable energy. He said the country was once reported to be the second largest producer of geothermal energy after the US.
"The challenge is how we can effectively optimize our assets so that by 2030 we would have tripled our capacity of renewable energy," he said.