Boracay eyes 50% reduction in diesel energy consumption

Boracay Island, Aklan. 31 March 2010. Efforts by Greenpeace and the tourism industry in this popular destination have been stepped up to keep peak-season energy demand comparable to off-peak levels in the immediate term, and to much lower levels subsequently.

With summer, especially the Lenten season, estimated to bring power consumption in the island to about 5,000,000KWH — up from the 4,500,000KWH average during off-peak months — the island looks to its “GrEEn Destination: Boracay” program to bring a 10-11% reduction through Energy Efficiency (EE). EE involves simple energy saving measures, such as changing light bulbs to more efficient models, proper switching off and unplugging of unused and on-standby appliances, and optimizing use and placement of fixtures and appliances.

Greenpeace partnered with the Foundation for the Philippine Environment to set-up an intensive tourist and resort-operators awareness campaign, initially with the “Save the Climate, Save Boracay” project in 2008. The project has since been taken on by the Department of Tourism (DOT) with Greenpeace and upgraded into the current “GrEEn Destinations” program that is being rolled out to other premiere locations, starting with Bohol this year. The program is intended to make tourist spots more climate-friendly by reducing the carbon emissions and waste materials coming from tourism activities. The use of fossil fuels for power generation is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions and climate change, hence EE measures would yield the greatest benefits from the industry.

“While the program currently focuses on EE measures as a way of contributing to carbon emissions reduction, we are very optimistic about possibilities of turning prime destinations, such as Boracay, into showcases for renewable energy,” said Amalie Obusan, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco), which supplies energy to the island, uses a mix of 80% geothermal and 20% diesel to the whole of Aklan. Its Boracay substation has a capacity to generate 30 megawatts (MW) of power. Visitors to Boracay almost reached 60 thousand this February, creating a 14MW energy demand. Influx of people are expected to increase to 70 thousand for March, and over 111 thousand in April, bringing the energy demand up to 17MW.

According to Greenpeace, a full implementation of EE measures would reduce the use of diesel by half. “The remaining half could then subsequently be cut through the use of Renewable Energy sources, such as solar, and by retro-fitting existing structures to make them even more energy efficient,” adds Obusan. “Imagine having a 100% Energy Efficient and RE-powered Boracay — a showcase for a true Energy Revolution, further elevating its status as a premier destination for the 21st century!”

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behavior, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.