Gov't offers 170-MW potential renewable project sites to investors

Gov't offers 170-MW potential renewable project sites to investors

MANILA, Philippines — Potential geothermal and hydropower sources with estimated capacity of over 170 megawatts are up for grabs for companies who wish to develop these untapped resources as part of a state policy shift toward renewables.

In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Energy identified 17 potential hydropower and five geothermal projects that qualified energy firms may develop. The proposed projects have a projected combined capacity of 177.4 MW and were presented to potential bidders during the start of third Open and Competitive Selection Process (OCSP3) last Tuesday.

Broken down, the proposed hydropower projects have a potential capacity of 90.4 MW while the geothermal projects could generate an estimated 87 MW. According to the energy department, the planned projects have caught the attention of some companies during Tuesday's presentation with stakeholders.

"We have obtained encouraging results from the series of online stakeholders’ consultation we undertook in July 2020 and that we are very optimistic in this OCSP 3,” Energy Assistant Secretary Robert Uy said.

Despite having some of the world's largest untapped sources of volcanic heat, the Philippines continues to rely on coal and oil for majority of its energy supply, which in 2019 occupied a combined share of 57.6% of the energy mix.

That government is proposing clean energy projects is good news to augment a declining share of RE in the energy supply from a high of 46.14% in 2006 to just 31.8% in 2019, albeit still one of the highest in Southeast Asia.

These efforts to shift to clean power will now be put to a test through the OSCP 3. Last month, the energy portfolio said no foreign investor had so far expressed interest to construct geothermal and biomass energy plants locally despite an announcement in October allowing 100% foreign ownership on geothermal energy plants worth at least $50 million. That move was coupled with a ban on new coal power plants for the time being.

Based on the DOE's report, foreigners can own 100% of three out of five proposed geothermal projects located in Benguet, Laguna and Camarines Norte. The last day to submit bid documents is on February 15.

Meanwhile, awarding of contracts for non-Financial and Technical Assistance (FTAA) projects is scheduled on April 14, while those covered by the FTAA will be endorsed to the Office of the President for approval by April 19.

"(Energy) Secretary (Alfonso) Cusi himself reiterated the commitment to promote our renewable energy, with the hope that in time, renewables will figure prominently in the country’s energy future,” Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel Juaneza said.