Still no foreign investors for geothermal, biomass projects

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The Philippines has yet to catch the attention of foreign investors to develop the country’s geothermal and biomass resources for power despite the government allowing full foreign ownership of such projects, according to Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi.

But while the Department of Energy (DOE) has not received any application to build a biomass facility wholly owned by a foreign entity, DOE Renewable Energy Management Bureau Director Mylene Capongcol said the department got many applications for biomass projects.

The government back in October allowed 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development, and utilization projects.

Large-scale geothermal projects are defined as those with an initial investment cost of about USD 50 million capitalization through Financial and Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs).

Cusi said the DOE has yet to issue a circular regarding the full foreign ownership of geothermal power plants.

Meanwhile, the department issued a set of policies last year opening up the biomass sector to foreign companies. Under the guidelines, there would be no need to tap a Filipino partner to build such facilities.

In the case of geothermal projects, Capongcol said that three of the five pre-determined areas will be viable for full foreign ownership or investment under FTAAs.

These are located in Barangay Daklan in Bokod, Benguet; Barangay Puting Lupa in Calamba City, Laguna; and Mount Labo in Camarines Norte.

The DOE hopes to announce the winning bidders by April 2021 and for Cusi to sign the renewable energy service contracts by May.

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