By Anton Joshua M. Santos

RE investors eye Philippines

Posted on May 23, 2014

THE PRESIDENT of a sustainable resources group has said that his organization and several others may invest as much as $500 million in renewable energy in the Philippines, given its benefits to local communities.

However, he also said that the country needs better implementing policies for renewable power.

“Between Sindicatum and two other groups that were with us on Monday night, I’d say that the amount of available and willing [investments] here would be between $300-500-million,” Robert E. Driscoll, president of Singapore-based Sindicatum Sustainable Resources, told reporters at a media roundtable yesterday, at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria hotel in Quezon City.

“We alone are prepared for a minimum $100 million,” Mr. Driscoll said, noting that the projects the company was looking at in the country included small-scale hydroelectric, biomass, and methane power plants.

He added that, depending on the technology, investment in a renewable energy source generally costs between $1-2-million per megawatt.

Mr. Driscoll also said that the group presented a report advocating renewable energy last Monday to a small group from the private sector and government, and that they had invited Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV.

He added that the country needed to be “more serious” about promoting renewable energy, which he noted was both cheaper than the present practice of importing fuel such as coal, and more accessible to local communities.

“If you think about an island nation, if you have biomass, solar, wind, and methane, you can do smaller projects and build the project according to the demand. So you don’t have to build the transmission lines; you don’t have the line losses that result from moving power,” Mr. Driscoll said.

He noted that the paper also discusses the economic benefit of investing in renewable energy resources, particularly in providing a new revenue source for local communities.

While praising the country’s investment climate as well as tax and Bureau of Investment incentives, he was concerned with policy, saying that certain guidelines -- such as the Philippines’ standard power purchase agreement -- were unclear.

He also noted that the group wanted to immediately make investments in renewable power in the Philippines because the implementing policies of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 (Republic Act 9513) might not be the same as those in place after 2016.