By Sheldeen Joy Talavera, Reporter

NORWEGIAN COMPANIES are viewing with interest the evolution of Philippine renewable energy (RE) policy, according to the Norwegian ambassador.

Christian Halaas Lyster, ambassador to Manila for the Royal Norwegian government, said the key is “a transparent and stable framework for activities within the various sectors… because that’s what the investors and businesses would like to have.”

“I think you’ll see that the current developments on the policy side have made it more interesting for companies — whether for hydro, floating solar, or offshore, onshore wind — for Norwegian companies,” he added.

He was speaking to BusinessWorld on the sidelines of a workshop on offshore wind.

Norway is Europe’s largest producer of hydropower. It is also a major producer of oil and gas from its North Sea fields, the wealth from which is helping finance its green energy transition, which includes the electrification of its transport system.

Mr. Lyster said the Philippine government “is moving in the right direction” and encouraged it to be collaborative with industry in drafting its regulations.

Developing the framework, regulations, and  guidelines “should be done in a collaborative way where you listen to industry but also where you include all the different agencies that might have a stake in the framework,” he said.

In late 2022, the Philippine Department of Energy (DoE) obtained a legal opinion from the Department of Justice  in support of exempting RE exploration, development, and utilization from the 40% cap on foreign ownership applicable to many enterprises.

The legal opinion paved the way for the revision of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR), to allow 100% foreign ownership of RE projects.

Mr. Lyster noted that the RE industry, particularly offshore wind, will also require investment in specialized ports able to handle the equipment required.

“To get (the needed) scale for wind development, port development is necessary. Basically that will require bigger new ports,” the envoy said.

“There are ports that might have the potential but they need to be developed further,” he added.

“Norwegian companies have been a part of renewable energy sector in the Philippines since back in 2005… when Scatec ASA came in to work on the Magat Dam,” Mr. Lyster said.

Scatec operates in the Philippines via a joint venture with Aboitiz Power Corp.

Mr. Lyster commended the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop scheme, which he said makes it convenient for companies to process their applications for permits.

The DoE plans to include local government unit-issued permits to the one-stop shop system.

The Norwegian and British Embassies in Manila, in collaboration with Global Wind Energy Council and Det Norske Veritas, had organized the two-day workshop on the offshore wind industry.

“The demand is already there. If countries are going to realize their renewable energy ambitions, thousands of new workers will be needed to construct and maintain new offshore installations,” Mr. Lyster said in a statement.

“The Philippines is perfectly situated to take advantage of this opportunity. We are here to help make that happen,” the ambassador said.