THE renewable energy industry needs the government to draft a plan giving offshore wind projects a clear role in decarbonizing the power industry, after the announcement of plans to form a panel that will promote investment in offshore wind farms, renewables advocates said.

“For this not to be another case of all talk and no action, (President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.) needs to… push the (Department of Energy) to produce an energy transition plan which would provide clarity on where offshore wind development is located in our overall development, while taking into account ecological, social, and cost implications,” Gerry C. Arances, executive director of Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, said via chat.

The council that will oversee offshore wind project applications is welcome, he said, adding that the government is setting in motion plans first laid out shortly after Mr. Marcos took office.

“Nearly half a year since his term started, it’s good to finally see a follow-through from the President’s State of the Nation Address promises on advancing renewables,” Mr. Arances said.

“Today’s energy crisis dictates that more (reliance on) gas will only empty the pockets of ordinary consumers while steering our energy security for the worse,” he said. “The DoE would do well to instead put its mind to developing a Philippine energy plan that prioritizes a thriving mix of renewables, which is capable of providing genuinely sustainable and reliable power.”

In a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Marcos asked Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla to further develop current wind energy initiatives, according to a statement from the Office of the Press Secretary.

It said Mr. Marcos approved the DoE’s proposal to create an Offshore Wind Development and Investment Council, which will serve as a “one-stop shop” for the industry.

However, Mr. Marcos still wants the DoE to regulate the offshore wind industry. “It should be the Department of Energy who should be talking with developers, in consultation with the council, of course. It has to be led by the DoE,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

The formation of the investment council was proposed amid “strong interest” from foreign firms seeking to develop wind farms using the latest technology, it said.

The DoE has approved 42 offshore wind contracts with a combined capacity of 31,000 megawatts (MW). The Philippines is estimated to have the capacity to generate about 40 gigawatts from offshore wind by 2050. 

“This is more than enough to cover the 500,000 MW projected peak demand the country will require by 2040 based on the DoE’s medium to long-term power outlook,” Mr. Lotilla was quoted as saying.

“The collaboration between the government and private sector is necessary and essential in building a robust offshore wind industry in the country that requires the right long-term vision, infrastructure development, investment, and policies,” Aboitiz Power Corp. said in a Viber message.

“We are encouraged by the significant strides the administration and the DoE are taking to make offshore wind play a bigger role to meet the country’s renewable energy goals and accelerate decarbonization,” it added.

Aboitiz Power said to take advantage of the potential of the offshore segment, “there is a need to look at the transmission network.”  

“This is a common technical issue for many offshore developments,” it said, adding that another possible hurdle to is the processing of permits, licenses, and other requirements for energy projects. “These are two areas where the government and private sector can work together to sustain momentum for exploring offshore wind.”

Increasing the share of wind energy could lead to a more diversified energy mix and support the transition to renewable energy, Aboitiz said.

Aboitiz Power recently sealed a partnership with Climate Capital Management and the Rocky Mountain Institute to conduct a feasibility study to develop up to three gigawatts (3 GW) of offshore wind projects in the Philippines.  Last month, it signed a joint venture agreement with Mainstream Renewable Power to develop a 90-MW onshore wind project in Libmanan, Camarines Sur.

“We will continue to pursue other opportunities to diversify our portfolio in order to grow our RE capacity to 4,600 MW by the end of this decade,” it said.

Alternergy Power Holdings also welcomed the government’s policy direction, saying it could unlock projects that will address expected supply constraints.

“With growing electricity demand and projected supply constraints, development and utilization of all available and clean and sustainable energy should be pursued,” former energy secretary and Alternergy Chairman Vicente S. Perez said.

“The time for offshore wind has come. This is the next frontier for the energy sector.”

Alternergy holds an offshore wind service contract for the Calavite Passage Offshore Wind Project the area of northwest Mindoro and Lubang Island. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza