”Switching to renewable energy saves both money and the planet as well”, statements from the NordCham Sustainability Committee

On September 21, The Nordic Chamber of Commerce Philippines hosted the 5th Sustainability Committee meeting on the topic of Corporate Transition to Renewable Energy at Spaces in World Plaza, BGC. 

Attendees included representatives from: Acen Corporation, ASSIST Asia, CMC Partners, Converge ICT Solutions, Einar’s Natural Food Export, Energy Regulatory Commission, Globe Telecom, Go Philippines, KeystoneSustainability, Niras Asia Manila, Nokia Solutions and Networks Philippines, Oxford Business Group, Rish Electromobility Inc., SN Aboitiz Power and Talk BPO.

The committee meeting focused on the business journey and practical actions that companies can take to switch to renewable energy sources in their own operations. Keynote speakers were Mr. Bryan Christopher O. King Kay, Vice President (Strategy and Sustainability) at Converge ICT Solutions, Inc. and Ms. Joanna Tiffany Chloe Kayanan, Power Marketing Manager at First Gen Corporation.

Mr. King Kay started the meeting by presenting the sustainability journey of Converge, which jump started in 2020 when they were publicly listed on the PSE. As part of becoming publicly listed, the requirement from the SEC is to report on the sustainability impact of the company. To map their impact, they conducted materiality assessment on the topics relevant to the firm, involving the relevant stakeholders. From this they could get a sense of their impact, and build a sustainability commitment and strategy. Now, one of their goals is to reduce their CO2 emissions by 75% by 2030. They looked into the relevant laws and saw that RCOA (Retail Competition and Open Access) allowed for companies to choose their own energy source, if they meet the minimum of 500 kWh. Converge met this demand at their Pasig headquarters and Clark data center.

The specific insights from the presentation includes:

  • Converge saw 3 possibilities for the sustainability strategy: (1) sustainability simply as compliance, (2) sustainability as a part of branding to attract investors and customers, and (3) sustainability as deeply imbedded in the strategy, taking responsibility of all stakeholders. Converge went with the latter. 
  • Commitment is not enough – it’s important to create actual impact. Converge’s process is to have direction, commitment and vision, which creates a business need and drives action.
  • When choosing an energy vendor, it is important to look at relevant criteria to ensure business continuity: functionality, reliability, guarantees and security. But Converge also assessed the vendors based on the sustainability of the vendor, as this creates an ‘ecosystem’ of sustainable business partners. 
  • Switching to renewable energy has a strong business case for stakeholders such as employees, customers and investors. The switch to RE led to more positive and engaged employees.
  • But there is also a strong business case quantitatively. More than 5.000 TCO2 has been saved, and 17.2 million PHP saved as of July 2022 from both renewable energy usage and energy efficiency. For Converge, switching to renewable energy saves both money and the planet as well.
Sustainability Committee Meeting Sep

Afterwards, Ms. Kayanan shared the perspective from First Gen Corporation. First Gen has a mix of different energy sources: natural gas, geothermal, wind, hydro and solar. Geo-thermal is the most marketed energy source in their portfolio, but they also have examples of commercial rooftop solar solutions for companies’ own commercial use. 

Ms. Kayanan shared her insights for renewable energy in the Philippines:

  • She reiterated that there are government policies in place to support companies to switch to RE. One of these includes the GEOP (Green Energy Option Program), developed by the DoE and the ERC, under which, companies with a minimum energy demand of 100 kWh may qualify and have the freedom to choose their own energy sources. This also leads to savings, as this allows the market to be competitive rather than captive. 
  • The “Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act” is in place for companies with over 100.000 kWh annually, and they must comply to:
    • Implement an Energy Management System
    • Set up energy efficiency programs and install RE technologies
    • Record monthly energy related data

Comments from the ERC included that they are in the public hearing to reduce the RCOA requirement to only 100 kWh and that floating solar, off-shore wind and nuclear energy is being evaluated as a source under the GEOP. This indicates that there will be much more opportunity for companies to switch to RE, increasing the demand for those energy sources.

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After the two presentations, the participants engaged in a short brainstorming session. Below are the highlights from the discussions: 

  • It is important to monitor and collect data on GHG emissions to be able to reduce it.
  • Underwater cooling systems can be used for e.g. data centers to reduce energy usage
  • Hybrid solar solutions - utilizing first solar panels for energy, then a back up battery storage system and then only when this is run out, use diesel generator
  • Increasing interest and demand for rooftop solar - how to make it more affordable and accessible?
  • Off-shore wind should be increased in the Philippine energy mix
  • Using coconut oil and alternative sources as fuel - for backup generators
  • It is important to safeguard supply chains for renewable energy against negative environmental and social impacts with the increase in renewable energy solutions
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The committee meeting is the 5th meeting of the Sustainability Committee by NordCham. The NordCham Sustainability Committee aims for more collaboration across industries and to learn from each other and from experts. Going forward, the Sustainability Committee hosts 9 annual meetings of varying sustainability topics with resource speakers and sharing of best practices, opportunities for networking and building partnerships, as well as collaboration with government units.

The upcoming Sustainability Committee meeting will be on October 26 from 3.30-6 PM at Spaces, World Plaza in BGC. The topic will be "Gender, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace" with speakers from AstraZeneca, H&M and Sprout Solutions. You can register here.

The Committee is intended for business partners of NordCham, but guests are also accepted. Interested guests are welcome to contact Executive Director, Jesper Svenningsen at js@nordcham.com.ph

NordCham Philippines looks forward to sustained collaboration and showcasing the sustainability initiatives of business partners, while contributing to positive change by forging stronger relations with the government.

Below are presentations of the keynote speakers available for download: