DOE pushes foreign involvement in biomass energy dev’t projects

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The Department of Energy (DOE) opened biomass energy development to foreign investments to aid in the growth of the sector. 

According to a BusinessWorld report, DOE’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau (REMB) Director Marissa P. Cerezo said that DOE is expediting the issuance of the new “omnibus guidelines” for the regulation of renewable energy contracts signed by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi.

The new guidelines not only opened the biomass sector to foreign corporations but also had DOE overrule the 60-40 percent ownership regulation in favor of Filipinos. Cerezo explained that biomass development uses a natural resource, hence, no limitation should be applied. 

“We don’t have the local technology on biomass yet so with this policy opening up to foreign companies, we believe that a lot more foreign companies will engage in biomass development or waste-to-energy development,” Cerezo was quoted saying in the report.

DOE Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella also said that the new guidelines will eliminate the blocking system for biomass projects that sets boundaries to petroleum exploration projects equivalent to 81 hectares.

“You’re not supposed to explore. There’s no exploration stage. That’s why in the award of the contract, it will start with operating stage,” he said.

Chairman of the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) Monalisa C. Dimantala said it was the biomass developers who clarified whether technologies in waste-to-energy projects are considered as exploration projects, and since these projects do not involve natural resources, the nationality requirement should not apply. 

“I think that’s an indication that will also unlock more interest or will realize more interest in the sector because… the request came from that sector itself,” she said.

Fuentebella was optimistic that the new guidelines would open more investments in biomass projects.

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