The Electric Vehicle Revolution in the Philippines

Each day in the Philippines our motor vehicles consume tens of millions of liters of gasoline.  An estimated hourly output of 2,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide is pumped into the air we breathe each hour.  Our country is spending the equivalent of over PHP 50,000 each and every hour to compensate for the treatment of pollution-related diseases and work-related productivity losses. Perhaps the worst statistic is that each hour of each day, four Filipinos die from the effects of air pollution.

Electric Trikes to the Rescue

Motorized tricycles produce an astonishing amount of pollution.  Perhaps more than you ever imagined.   Just one tricycle in the Philippines is producing as much pollution equivalent to 50 modern automobiles.

With tricycles being a major transportation medium in the country, the Philippines is attempting to make strides in clean and pollution-free tricycle transportation solutions with the help of a new Japanese start-up company called Terra Motors who is producing a new electric tricycle.  The vehicle making noteworthy strides is a new all-electric three-wheeled tricycle (otherwise known as an e-trike) that is poised to help clean-up the air quality.  The new vehicle is a sleek and modern space-aged design that holds 6 passengers travels a distance of 31 miles (50 km) on a charge and takes two hours to charge the battery pack.  It is relatively affordable for an electric vehicle at only $6300 per unit.  In order to concurrently help the economy, the vehicle will be made in the Philippines and sold here and throughout Southeast Asia.

E-trikes already operating in Several Philippine Cities

These e-trikes are already operating in certain areas of the country including Puerto Princesa, Makati City, Surigao and in Taguig.  Thanks to some forward and progressive thinking by President Aquino and his staff, along with a $300 million loan from the Asian Development Bank, these new clean and carbon- free vehicles will be seen amass throughout Metro Manila and other cities over the next few years.  This progress can be attributed to a lease-to-own program recently announced that will eventually replace 100,000 gas-powered tricycles with clean and efficient, cost-effective electric powered e-trikes by the year 2016.  This is a substantial effort but more than likely simply a beginning step to the Philippines enormous air pollution problem and ongoing imported fuel demands.

Cost Savings of e-Trikes for Drivers and Society as a Whole

The e-trike will save owner/drivers $5 a day in fuel costs.  From a tricycle owner/drivers perspective whose current salary is only $10 a day, this is a substantial improvement in profit.  Currently, the engines in many of the standard tricycles found in the Philippines are two-stroke units that are some of the most polluting power sources allowed on the streets of our country.  Not only are there no emission control systems on these vehicles but they burn excessive amounts of crankcase oil in addition to the hydrocarbons from the burning of the gasoline to power the vehicles. After the majority of these vehicles are replaced, the potential the substantial improvements in the driver’s health over time by reduced exposure to exhaust fumes, and the resultant health savings are also an important factor.  In fact, in the end, health-related expenses will bring health and financial savings to all of us Filipinos.

Modular Battery Design

These vehicles should lend themselves nicely to a modular battery-pack design that could be removed when the vehicle when the battery’s charge is extinguished and then replaced with another fully-charged battery-pack providing an additional 31 miles of travel.  If the owner has two removable battery packs, the out-of-service pack could be charged at a base location while the e-trike driver is out making his rounds.  The e-trike driver could theoretically provide his service almost uninterrupted and continuously by swapping-out battery packs in this manner.

The government could initiate a loan program to allow these drivers to purchase additional battery packs.  The government could also include the extra battery packs in the lease-to-own program.

Additionally, adding quick charging stations throughout an urban area to improve operating distances may also be a way to help extend e-trikes ranges.  Given the fact the Philippines has a tremendous abundance of sun exposure throughout the year, the charging stations should be provisioned with extensive arrays of solar panels for free energy to charge our new transportation network. This would take the burden off of our power infrastructure and avoid us building new power plants for the transition to electric transportation.

Thanks to new manufacturing processes and the Chinese flooding the market with product, Solar panels have become much more affordable over the last few years; in some cases one-half the price of only a couple of years ago.

The e-Jeepney Movement

Additional environmental and sustainable energy progress is being realized in the e-jeepney movement currently ongoing in the country’s financial district of Makati City.  Twenty one e-jeepneys are currently hitting the streets of this Makati with charging stations strategically placed throughout the district. E-jeepney owners are currently franchised to cover a certain route in the city.

At PHP 700,000, these e-jeepneys are approximately twice the price of the e-trikes but still comparatively reasonable considering the electric technology and prices of most electric cars currently on the market. Besides the obvious benefits in fuel savings air pollution reduction and owner profits, these e-jeepneys are locally produced helping promote and grow our countries economy.  The first ones were produced in 2008 and now are growing in popularity and availability.  Additional measures are needed similar to the e-trike program so as to provide an impetus to massive implementation of the e-jeepneys nationwide.

Senate Passes Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act

The e-movement momentum is alive and well in the halls of our legislature.  The Philippines Senate just passed the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act in the first quarter of 2013.  This bill is expected to lower the cost of electric vehicles and hybrids by offering tax exemption schemes.  Since the price of electric vehicles (EV’s) is a substantial factor in limiting their widespread use, the Senate wants to do whatever they can to help reduce the price of EVs.

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Act will extend fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for the importation and manufacture of electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles sources.  Some of the alternative fuels that will qualify for the tax breaks include solar, wind, hydrogen fuel cell, compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Manufacturers of these vehicles in the country will be exempted from paying duties and value-added tax for purchase and importation of assembly components, raw materials, spare parts, and equipment used in the manufacture of alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) for nine years.  Additionally, a nine year exemption of excise tax will be granted to importers of fully completed AFV. The owners of AFVs will not have to pay the usual Road User’s Tax when registering their alternative fuel vehicles. AFVs used as Public-Utility-Vehicles (such as e-jeepneys and e-trikes) will be given priority in the registration process and issuance of plate numbers, along with prioritizing their applications in franchise process.

In Conclusion – Hope for a Clean and Bright Future

Once again, we would like to encourage and give kudos to the administration and the Asian Development Bank for taking this course of action to do something extremely far-sighted to address the issues of pollution, health issues, energy independence and climate change.   We would also like to thank the businessmen in Makati for pushing the e-jeepney movement and the efforts of the Philippine Senate in passing incentive bills to make alternative fuel vehicles less expensive.

Our country has some momentum now; the technology is becoming increasingly affordable, let’s keeps our thinking caps on and moves forward into the 21st century with vim and vigor and a mindset of progressive change.  Our future generations are entirely dependent on us making the right decisions at this juncture in history!  Since we are blessed with abundant solar resources, ever-increasing efforts should be made by the government, NGO’s, and the many businessmen this country has made millionaires out of, that will entirely transform the Philippines into an all electric and solar transportation country.  Filipinos are innovative, smart and resourceful people.   Research and development work should be focused on ongoing and continuous efforts for a clean and modern society.  With the political will and adequate funding, we can become the alternate/green energy transportation example for the rest of the world.

Solar Island

If the Philippines play its cards right and the country takes the steps necessary to avail itself of a timely-opportunity, a prosperous, new possibility exists for the Philippines becoming the location for the next California-based Silicon Valley of the coming solar age – a catchy name begs acceptance – let’s call it Solar Island for now?

The Philippines, leveraging some creative-foresight and focused-campaigning can attempt to prove to the solar cell manufacturing industry the idea that our country is the “right place” to locate their new solar production facilities. We just may be able to literally become the de-facto location for manufacturing much-needed solar panels for an ever-changing world. But we have to act fast and provide the incentives and infrastructure in order to capture the market.

THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO CHANGE

The handwriting is on the wall — the scope of world-events occurring in the last few years has made it very clear – the world needs new, clean energy sources.Given global climate change and its negative consequences – skyrocketing oil prices bankrupting airlines and plummeting automotive sales – countries sending hundreds of billions of dollars to Middle East entities of ill-repute – foreign oil dependence leading to a developed country’s instability quotient – the world is ready for a change.

It’s clear the countries of the world will be turning to alternative, safe, clean, renewable power from new sources in order to fulfill their energy demands over the next several decades. The number-one most likely source of this power should be the sun. In 2006, the worldwide market for solar cells was already at $9.5 billion and growing by approximately 20 percent per year. Numerous companies are racing towards the finish-line to development ever-increasing efficiency factors and streamlined processes for the manufacture of these cells for the huge market about to explode.

PROGRESSIVE GERMANY

Germany became creative way back in the year 2000 when their government adopted a subsidy law called the Energy Act requiring the large power companies to purchase all solar power at premium rates from any solar startup project.This spurred a huge growth in Germany’s solar footprint. While they are embracing solar technology to help mitigate global climate change, a very desirable outcome occurred.Solar cell manufacturing companies and other components prospered tremendously under the new energy act and have put an additional 40,000 Germans to work.

CURRENT PHILIPPINES SOLAR COMPANIES

The Philippines already has important solar cell manufacturing company assets; we host two major world players in the solar cell manufacturing business – SunPower and Solaria.A short bio and Philippine footprint of these companies follows.

SunPower, a publically-traded, high-value maker of silicon crystal PV solar cells, produces cells with a 22% light-to-electricity conversion ratio – these are the most efficient cells made anywhere in the world.SunPower operates two manufacturing plants in the Philippines showing an impressive $220 million in solar panel exports for 2006.This cutting-edge company is currently building a new 250 megawatt all-solar power plant in San Luis Obispo, California alongside an even larger 550 megawatt solar plant to be built and operated by another major player in the solar industry known as OptiSolar.These projects represent an important milestone in U.S. power generation in that PG&E, a major California electric and gas utility, will be purchasing the power and supplying it to the actual power grid in California. These two power projects will provide enough energy to serve approximately 239,000 residential homes each year.

Solaria, a privately-held solar cell company, also operating a manufacturing facility in the Philippines, has pioneered a new crystal silicon PV solar cell production method that is more cost-effective than most others. Last year, Solaria brokered a new deal with the second-largest solar cell manufacturing company in the world, Q-Cells. This cell supply agreement guarantees Solaria access to a huge 1.35 gig watts of production capacity over the next ten years.In 2007, when the deal was forged, this contract represented one of the industry’s largest solar cell deals ever. This cell supply arrangement will enable Solaria to produce well over 2.7 gig watts of photo voltaic modules using its proprietary cell-multiplication technology over the next 10 years – a large percentage of these cells will originate from the Philippines.

NEW SOLAR TECHNOLOGY

The last several years have given rise to several new technologies for the solar cell manufacturing processes utilizing various types of semiconductor material.We will investigate one of the major processes becoming increasingly popular below.

The CIGS process stands for Copper Indium Gallium Selenide and is characteristically a thin-film process for disbursing semiconductor material composed of those same elements named above.The CIGS process (a more cost-effective process companies like OptiSolar use) is less efficient than the standard silicon crystal junction technology, producing less electrical power for a given amount of light energy.Silicon crystal junction technology has been the mainstream solar cell production process for many years.The reason the CIGS process is less expensive for making product is the deposition of the semiconductor material is much easier, thereby allowing for much faster, higher-volume and significantly less expensive manufacturing processes.The leader in this solar cell process is Global Solar who is actually producing solar cells on a flexible base material that is substantially lighter than the crystal silicon method, and can be bent to conform to curved surfaces.

Venture capitalists have poured more than $344 million into five other CIGS-type companies in the last few years.These companies are Nanosolar, Miasolé, Solopower, Solyndra, and Heliovolt.This new technology currently looks like the most probable future process.

COMPANIES WITHIN OUR REACH

There are a host of large and small-scale solar cell manufacturing companies throughout the world pushing to position their company to the forefront of the new age of green energy production.Industry sources say there are over 200 solar cell manufacturers in the world with new startups climbing on board the solar wagon almost every week.

Below is a partial list of some of the more prominent solar cell manufacturing companies in the race to meet the expectations of a world in need of energy independence and green power.

Let’s encourage our president and politicians to pursue these companies with completely eliminated tax and tariffs and other incentives to encourage them to build solar manufacturing in the new Solar Island of the Philippines.

Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (CIGS)
AVA Solar (CdTe)
Avancis (CIGS)
CaliSolar (UMG Si) [1]
Calyxo (CdTe)
Covalent Solar (CPV) [2]
DayStar Technologies (CIGS)
Dyesol (DSSC) [3]
Ersol Solar Energy AG (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
First Solar (CdTe)
Fuji Electric Systems Co., Ltd. (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
G24 Innovations (DSSC) [4]
Global Solar Energy (CIGS)
Heliatek (OP)
HelioVolt (CIGS)
Honda Soltec Co., Ltd. (CIGS)
Innovalight (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
JA Solar Holdings
Johanna Solar Technology (CIGS)
Kaneka (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
Konarka (OP)
Matsushita Battery Industrial Co., Ltd. (CdTe)
Miasole (CIGS)
Mitsubishi Heavy industries (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
Nanosolar (CIGS)
Odersun (CIGS)
Oerlikon Solar
Plextronics (OP)
PrimeStar Solar (CdTe)
Q-Cells (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
ShadePlex (Thin film cells bonded to architectural fabrics) [5]
Sharp (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si), is trying to wean itself from silicon by focusing on thin-film solar cells. [6]
Showa Shell Sekiyu (CIGS), plans to work with semiconductor equipment maker Ulvac Inc on research to raise efficiency of the panels [6].
Solarmer (OP)
Solibro (CIGS)
Solyndra (CIGS)
Sulfurcell (CIGS)
Sunpower
United Solar Ovonics (Amorphous/nanoparticle Si)
Würth Solar (CIGS)
Main article: Solar cell

FILIPINOS ARE ALREADY CONTRIBUTING

Filipino engineers working for SunPower and Solaria have contributed greatly in making many improvements to solar cell manufacturing processes.Some of these include streamlined testing and analysis of complete panels and individual solar cells, new soldering methods for solar cell interconnection, automation methods, new manufacturing material analysis, new quality control methods and logistical improvements involving material handling.

Filipinos can use the presence of companies like SunPower and Solaria to attract direct suppliers and venders in order to encourage other solar companies to take advantage of the Philippines as an effective and efficient manufacturing location.If we are going to attract additional companies, an efficient supply chain and logistical support system will need to be improved and assurance for continual growth.Perhaps the Clark Freeport with its many incentives is an ideal area for the creation of a Solar Centric Valley.

In our efforts to attract new companies, we should continue to research new technologies, processes, understand company profiles and their needs, and most importantly, remaining one-step ahead of the game.Only then can we cease the moment and become a viable and efficient manufacturing location for these important energy-related companies of today and tomorrow.

As Clark and Subic locators, let’s put our heads together, talk to the most influential people in power we may know, and work to get the wheels rolling. Maybe Solar Island is the destiny for the Clark/Subic corridor? Each of us can do our part to help encourage this idea and set the stage for a new and brighter tomorrow for the Philippines.If the sun is the road to a more shining future, then let’s follow it.

World Oil Crisis – Can Clark Set the Standard for Innovation?

In the time it takes a person to read this sentence, the world will have used about 8,000 barrels, or 336,000 gallons of oil!At 1000 barrels per second, it’s going fast! With China and India developing exponentially faster than ever imagined, we are at a point in history where we have to make some tough choices or risk unimaginable loss.

China for instance, is experiencing an escalation of first-time car buyers that’s unprecedented in modern history – in years past, the majority of the people in this nation of over 1.3 billion would use bicycles as their main mode of transportation.As the Chinese people find themselves in the midst of a period of unparalleled economic growth and prosperity over the last 20 years, the masses are now replacing their bicycles with automobiles.Growing more than eightfold since 2000, China has recently passed Japan to become the world’s second-largest car market, behind the United States.What do staggering car sales, intense industrial production and the related energy consumption and emissions mean to China and the rest of the world?

On Thursday of last week in the good old USA, Al Gore made a speech that was closely watched by a nation in a state of energy-shock and in the grips of the beginning phases of a dramatic recession.In the past months Gore has been hosting a series of solutions summits with scientists, engineers, CEOs, and financiers. Gore’s speech pulled together some of the best ideas gathered from those talks with these top experts from around the world.He detailed what each person can do to help curtail the world’s dangerous addiction to fossil fuels and help solve the climate crisis.He also proposed an aggressive plan that if embraced, would enable the U.S. to both end its reliance on imported fossil fuels and drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions to boot.

Gore’s aggressive plan calls for converting the entire electrical power system of the U.S. to renewable, eco-friendly sources of energy within an accelerated time-frame of only 10 years.Gore emphasized: “We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.” Gore claims the technology is in place and all that is needed is the political will to take America into a new energy-independent era of solar, wind and geothermal power.Theses clean and renewable energy resources are highly-desirable, and at this point critically necessary.America and the world desperately need new clean energy assets that emit zero greenhouse gas and would help to curtail the exponentially-progressing climate change currently taking place on mother earth.

The world, not America, not the Philippines or any other country, are at a crossroads – if we don’t focus ourselves of this pivotal point in history and make some drastic choices, and soon, we could be faced with some extreme consequences we don’t even want to admit are possible.We are looking at dramatic penalties for delaying our action – consequences such as extreme weather and the rise of the oceans to levels that will encroach on coastal areas, displacing hundreds of millions of people from their homes.

We are already witnessing damaging and frequent extreme-weather conditions around the world.As we take inventory of intense weather tearing-up the world and causing devastation, we are quite honestly frightened for our future.In the Philippines, we are seeing an earlier start to the typhoon season each year as the intensity and numbers of these killer-storms rise.Just recently, Typhoon Fengshen left more than 1300 people dead or missing. As the current typhoon season approaches, around 20 typhoons are predicted by our weather service to hit the Philippines over the next several months.The recent Myanmar cyclone that killed 84537 people and left 53836 more missing has left that Southeast Asian neighbor entirely devastated with their rice fields under water and unusable for many months or possibly years to come.

America imports 70% of their oil every year and the Philippines importing 100% of ours.If we want to eliminate unstable, rouge, Middle Eastern nations dictating our oil prices and leaving wide-open the possibility of our economy coming to a complete, grinding-collapse, then we need to start to brain-storm, innovate, and facilitate creative ideas that will put us on a course of energy independence – and we need to start now!

I would like to suggest a plan that would allow the locators and governmental entities in Clark to lead the way and provide some ground-breaking opportunity for pioneering change in the Philippines.If properly implemented and supported by government and local industry, I feel this program could be a model for the rest of the nation and possibly the rest of the world.This program could ultimately helping encourage and inspire private business and governments to take the reigns in order to create worldwide green energy solutions to help mediate this weather crisis and lessen the dependence on foreign oil sources.

What if we were to start a private-sector program backed and funded by the companies in Clark?This program would be formed to subsidize public transportation for the Clark Zone, eventually encouraging an all-electric employee-commute transportation system?This program would establish a fund providing a source of low to no-interest loans to encourage Jeepney owners to convert existing, or purchase new, clean, all-electric Jeepney vehicles for transporting workers in and out of the Freeport.

I see this as a voluntary program, establishing yearly contributions to the fund, with the amount of each Clark business owner’s contribution directly related to the number of employees in their employ.With large companies such as Texas Instruments and Samsung participating, substantial fund loading could be realized to ensure the success and sustainability of this plan.

As an incentive for the locators to contribute to this program, the government could offer each participating-company a large tax credit, reducing their taxable income.The amount of credit extended could be a percentage of the individual locator’s contribution to the program – this would create a system where the larger the contribution to the program, the larger the tax credit to the company.

We could ask for CDC’s help in establishing a graduated-mandate. This mandate would state that within a given number of years, all vehicles providing public transportation in the Zone must participate in the Clark Electric Transportation Program.

A NGO oversight supervision group with a credible-history of managing green energy resources and funds would coordinate and monitor the distribution and repayments of loans supplied to the Jeepney owners as well as coordinates and collect the fund of the business owners in the Freeport.

Additionally, this oversight group would be responsible for the build-out of solar-powered electrical charging stations within the Freeport, allowing for entirely free charging to Jeepney owners participating in the program.This oversight group could also be responsible for forming strategic partnerships with companies that produce solar cells right here in the Philippines such as Sun Power, producer of some of the worlds most efficient and creative solar cell products.Companies such as this could help offset the cost of the panels for the charging stations.They could also be issued tax incentives and worldwide exposure as a major contributor to an important green energy solution.
For additional information on Sun Power we’ve included their website address and a couple press releases detailing their Philippine operations below:

http://www.sunpowercorp.com

http://investors.sunpowercorp.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=179419

http://investors.sunpowercorp.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=256947

On the horizon is new super-capacitor battery technology that will increase the effective range of electric vehicles before needing a charge by a factor of 10, and decrease the charging time dramatically to as low as 5 minutes for a full charge.A company called Eestor, based in Texas, is currently working on this technology and is expected to release production units sometime this year.With new, ever-evolving, high efficiency solar cells and longer lasting battery technology and a passion for individual involvement, innovation and change, we can do this!For additional information about Eestor technology, read the Wikipedia article below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEStor

I feel the Clark Freeport Zone is ideally suited for a green energy pilot-program of dramatic and far-sighted scope and proportion.We are an independently-governed and highly-concentrated business zone with a growing base of high-tech companies – several involved in silicon chip manufacturing. The Philippines is home to one of the most efficient and innovative silicon solar-cell manufacturing companies in the world.New battery technology is on the horizon making possible, dramatically extended ranges between charging for electric vehicles. Understanding the opportunity set before us, the world energy demands, the climate change emergency, quickly increased food prices and the need for clean transportation services for our workers, lets labor together to bring a model program, harnessing the free power of the sun to Clark.

I welcome the comments, suggestions and constructive criticism of all Clark locators and anyone with additional ideas here. Please submit your comment using the comment link below.