THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has agreed to simplify the process for issuing environmental clearance certificates (ECCs) to offshore wind projects, the Department of Energy (DoE) said.

The two departments signed a memorandum of agreement regarding the authority to grant access to offshore areas for exploration activities, specifically those covered by offshore wind energy service contracts.

The partnership seeks to assist developers in ensuring that their pre-development exploration activities are compliant within environmental rules and international best practices.

The agreement “actually simplifies the process for the issuance of the pre-development stage ECC,” Energy Secretary Raphael P. M. Lotilla told reporters.

The deal will “facilitate the rollout of the renewable energy projects,” he added.

To date, the DoE has awarded 82 offshore wind project service contracts with a potential combined capacity of 63.36 gigawatts.

“Exploration… may have a significant unintended impact on the environment given that installation, operation, and decommissioning, can potentially, cause some disruption and threaten marine, terrestrial, and socio-economic environments,” Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said.

“And this is why it is essential that we work together and support each other in this endeavor,” she added.

Last month, the DENR issued the interim guidelines for issuing ECCs to offshore wind energy projects.

Energy Undersecretary Sharon S. Garin told reporters separately that the interim ECC process will allow developers to conduct studies in the potential resource area. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera