Resolve bottlenecks, RE firm urges gov’t

Government must break down bottlenecks — including the delayed implementation of policy mechanisms, complex permitting process, and grid interconnection issues — to speed up renewable energy development.

Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings Inc. founder Leandro Leviste said unease in doing business, particularly the challenges in permit approvals, are the main roadblocks that slow the full-speed integration of clean energy in the overall power mix.

“The Philippines, arguably, has the best renewable energy policies in Southeast Asia and I remember President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s answer was very sharp that yes, the policies are helpful but even if you have full foreign ownership of renewable energy projects in the Philippines, that will not change the difficulty of doing business in the Philippines,” Leviste said in an interview with reporters.

Awash with cash

“It’s the latter that’s the core problem that needs to be fixed if the years it takes to get land conversion and right of way for projects is streamlined, then that more than the other things is what will make the renewable capacity bloom because the capital is not the main constraint. The listed power companies in the Philippines have so much capital. They’re even investing abroad,” he added.

Once the barriers are up, Leviste said the electricity rates in the country will significantly decrease. Thus, his company is banking on the political willpower of the Marcos administration to streamline such business processes.

“It is expected that more political will be applied to this issue and also because it’s timely that the power shortage is now among the top public concerns,” Leviste added.

Under the National Renewable Energy Program 2020-2040, the government is targeting to increase RE share in the power generation mix to at least 35 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.

As per NREP, new-build capacities from RE, with a total of 52,826 MW, needs to be added to attain this goal. Of which, 27,162 MW for solar; 16,650 MW, wind; 6,150 MW, hydro; 2,500 MW, geothermal and 364 MW, biomass. It also calls for developing new gas plants with a total capacity of 18,859 MW.

Solar Philippines Nueva Ecija Corporation, a unit of Solar Philippines, recently announced its plan to transform its operations in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan into the world’s largest solar farm — surpassing India’s Bhadla Solar Farm, currently the world’s largest solar farm with over 2.2 gigawatts of capacity.

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