How green is Puerto Galera?
Puerto Galera is a popular tourism destination for people living in Metro Manila who are either into diving or just beach bumming, because it is merely two hours drive from Metro Manila on a good day.
It may sound dumb to ask how green is this place, because clearly, it has a lot of natural greenery. Mangrove and coconut trees are found in abundance around the municipality of Puerto Galera.
The "green" that we are exploring is more than what meets the eyes, but includes clean air, power supply and waste management, the invisible elements that impact our environment.
Since 2020, Puerto Galera has a wind farm that provides 16MW of power generated from wind. It was supposed to be just Phase 1 of a project that in total will generate 48MW of power from wind, but we have no news about the remaining phases.
Solar power. We noticed only one resort in Puerto Galera that has a meaningful solar power facility on its premises. Since air-conditioning is used constantly in this 20-room hotel, we estimate that the solar panels can provide no more than 30% of the energy needed for the hotel's operation. We need more hotels to install clean energy supply to get impact on greening the energy supply.
Hydropower. There is a wonderful pilot hydropower project in Puerto Galera. It is a tiny hydroelectric power generator that comes with a water purification system. The project also has a electric trike component. Using the energy from Tamaraw Waterfalls, a hydropower was estimated to be able to generate 15MWh annually.
A project review report by Japan explains clearly the process of implementing the project.
The hydropower project was completed in 2016. As a pilot scheme, the project achieved its goal to prove the viability of micro hydropower stations to help small communities. However, the sustainability of the project on a long term basis is unknown, as money needed to maintain the operations, such as replacing worn out parts and personnel to undertake maintenance, are not secured. This gift from the Japanese government needs the commitment of the local authorities to keep it going.
During our short stay in Puerto Galera, we did not see any effort at either hotels or the tourist areas to segregate or clean recyclable materials. Even though streets seemed to be cleaned regularly, we are not aware that the waste is recycled.
Overall, in our view, Puerto Galera has a 6 out of 10 rating on its Environmental Protection efforts. Much needs to be done.