e-Trikes to address Philippine environment, livelihood issues
The Philippine’s trikes (motorized tricycles) – the country’s most ubiquitous form of transport – are set for a major makeover with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of the Philippines envisaging having up to 100,000 electricity-powered trikes on the road by 2020.
An estimated 3.5 million trikes currently ply the country’s streets with 200,000 in Metro Manila, the national capital. As well as causing roadside air and noise pollution the nation’s trike fleet also releases an estimated 10 million tonnes of CO2 every year according to the ADB. The transport sector is the Philippines’ largest source of carbon emissions.
The country’s Department of Energy hopes the project will spur the development of an electric vehicle industry in the Philippines. And, along with the environmental benefits, the government and the ADB also hope the project address poverty issues as well.
A total of USD500 million has been earmarked for the e-trike project, with USD300 million coming from the ADB, USD100 million from the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, and USD100 million from the national government.
The Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines and the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines told ABS-CBN News the project could spur a 20 billion peso (USD477.5 million) industry via value-added parts and labor.
The Energy Department also sees a “second life” for the e-trikes’ used up lithium-ion batteries in various applications, including as uninterruptible power supply units for computers and energy storage mediums for small-scale solar projects.
So far, 20 e-trikes are operating in a pilot project in Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila. Half of these a 3-kilowatt hour battery pack that can run between 40 to 50 kilometers at one charge and can be 80 percent recharged at fast-charging stations during the day for 30 minutes. The other 6 kilowatt-hour e-trikes can run up to 100 kilometers on a single overnight charge.
The e-trike idea originated within Department of Energy’s Fueling Sustainable Transport Program, in an attempt to increase the country’s renewable energy-powered modes of transportation. The ADB then adopted the project and will provide funding and support for the Department of Energy – the implementing and executing agency – and the local government units.
Local government units will manage the financial mechanism for the acquisition of the e-trikes. The plan is for drivers to be able to either rent an e-trike of purchasing one on a rent-to-own scheme, paying as little as 200 Philippine pesos (USD4.76) per day.
The ADB reckons that saving on petrol will be enough to pay for the cost of an e-trike. It says a conventional tricke needs between 5 and 7 liters of gasoline to travel approximately 100 kilometers, which costs 250 to 350 pesos. To travel the same distance, an e-trike will use between 3 kWh and 5 kWh of electricity for only 30 to 50 pesos.
The e-trike project has come in for criticism from international environmental organizations to local civil society groups, with Greenpeace questioning the decision to reallocate the Clean Technology Fund to electric tricycles, saying this fund should be focused instead on projects like solar generation.
The fear is that supporting the e-trike concept could be the same as supporting fossil fuels, as long as the e-trikes are plugged into energy sources powered by coal.
Other groups slam the project’s reported lack of consultation with important stakeholders like civil society, renewable energy advocates, industry members and finance groups, before deciding to reallocate funding.
Philippine Energy Department undersecretary Loreta Ayson maintains, however, that renewable energy is integrated into the project in the form of solar-powered chargers. Another proposal, where solar panels would be placed on the roofs of large shopping malls across the country, has not been submitted.