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No foreign interest yet in geothermal projects

no foreign interest yet in geothermal projects 816x445 - No foreign interest yet in geothermal projects

THE Energy department has yet to receive applications from foreign investors interested in geothermal and biomass projects, officials said Monday, two months after geothermal was opened up to 100% full foreign ownership.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi had liberalized investment in the geothermal industry for the third open and competitive selection process (OCSP3).

In a briefing Monday, Mr. Cusi said “Wala pa (none yet)” in reference to foreign interest in geothermal.

Biomass projects have also drawn no foreign inquiries, according to the director of the Renewable Energy Management Bureau, Mylene C. Capongcol.

“(Ang) pagkakaalam ko wala pa rin na pumasok na foreign (No foreign investments have come in)… but there are a lot (local) of biomass projects that were applied for,” she said.

Last year, the DoE (Department of Energy) opened the biomass sector to foreign firms, according to its omnibus guidelines for the award and administration of renewable energy contract services.

AREAS IDENTIFIED FOR FOREIGN PARTICIPATION
Ms. Capongcol said three out of five predetermined geothermal areas are open to full foreign ownership. These are the Mt. Labo, Daklan, and Puting Lupa Geothermal Projects, which had a total potential capacity of 74 megawatts.

Mount Labo is in Camarines Norte, Daklan in Benguet and Puting Lupa in Laguna.

Ms. Capongcol said that two Filipino companies have submitted letters of intent to the department.

“We expect na by April, ma-identify na kung sino ‘yung ‘tong mga willing bidders and… by May, mapirmahan po din ni Secretary. (We expect that, by April, we would be able to identify the willing bidders. I hope that by May, the list will be signed by the Secretary),” she said.

She added that the updated OCSP3 guidelines are expected by Dec. 30.

Asked about whether the agency is seeking to modify the project terms to attract more foreign interest, Ms. Capongcol said she believed the current incentive scheme is “quite good.”

“We keep promoting and facilitating (the) entry (of the) private sector or RE developers in all aspects of renewable energy technologies,” she added.

At the briefing, Mr. Cusi also gave updates on the status of the nuclear policy recommendation submitted last week to President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week.

“We submitted that last Friday (Dec. 18)… We have (a) positive expectation. We hope that it will be included… in our energy mix,” he said. Five months earlier, Mr. Duterte created an interagency body to conduct a study on a national policy regarding the use of nuclear energy. — Angelica Y. Yang

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