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Energy dep’t welcomes US investment in renewables, nuclear

REUTERS

ENERGY Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi invited US companies Thursday to invest in the Philippine energy sector, particularly in renewables and nuclear power, as the country strives to make its power sources more reliable and sustainable.

“I hope our American friends in the business community will again take a look at our new initiatives that aim to make the Philippines rife with many investment opportunities,” Mr. Cusi said during his talk at the virtual economic briefing “PH-US at 75: Strengthening Ties through Sustainable Recovery.”

He invited US companies to take part in the department’s Green Energy Option Program (GEOP) and Green Energy Auction Program (GEAP). GEOP allows users consuming at least 100 kilowatts of power to tap retail energy suppliers generating electricity from renewables, while GEAP allows qualified RE (renewable energy) developers to offer their output to the rest of the power industry.

“I want to invite you to participate in these renewable programs,” Mr. Cusi said.

One of the Department of Energy objectives based on its updated Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2018-2040 is to increase output of clean and indigenous sources of energy, such as geothermal, hydro, and natural gas to meet the demands of economic development, according to Mr. Cusi.

He said the new PEP contemplates a clean energy scenario of slower growth in the total primary energy supply as a result of embarking on energy efficiency and conservation measures. “Coal and oil shares will also continue to decrease due to the use of alternative fuels for transport, among others,” he said.

Asked about which particular area of RE he would like to see more private sector participation in, Mr. Cusi said he would like to accelerate the development of geothermal.

“Geothermal energy is an area that we would really like to tap and develop. That’s the kind of power we need, and we’d like to see investors from the US doing a 100% participation in the development of our geothermal energy,” he said during the virtual event’s panel discussion.

Mr. Cusi also highlighted the investment opportunity in nuclear energy. “I am a firm believer that integrating nuclear power into the country’s energy mix would significantly help us meet our future power requirements,” he said.

Before President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the order creating the Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee, PEP had assumed the inclusion of nuclear power in the energy mix by 2035, Mr. Cusi said. The inter-agency committee, which studied the adoption of a national position for a Nuclear Energy Program, submitted its recommendation to the President in December.

Mr. Cusi said that with the evolution of small modular reactors which can be used for off-grid areas or remote islands, the possibility of integrating nuclear power in the generation mix “might come as early as 2027.”

This will depend on the passage of legislation regulating nuclear power, he said.

In his speech, he also invited business leaders to consider the Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program which aims to spur exploration by offering areas with potential oil and gas reserves. The program features a revised petroleum service contract awarding mechanism which allows investors to bid for exploration projects through competitive selection or by nomination.

“I am happy to share that as a result of our strong promotional efforts, both locally and abroad, as of December 2020, we received a total of 14 applications for nominated and new areas,” Mr. Cusi said. — Angelica Y. Yang

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