A SENATOR has asked the government to speed up the development of transmission facilities for offshore wind projects, citing the need to boost the Philippine renewable energy (RE) sector.

“The country would be better positioned to attract renewable energy investments if transmission facilities are readily available for these RE facilities, particularly for offshore wind farms,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in a statement over the weekend.

Citing data from the Department of Energy (DoE), he said the government has awarded 79 offshore wind service contracts this year amounting to 61.91 gigawatts of installed capacity. The offshore wind contracts were for planned projects in Northern Luzon, Northern Mindoro and Southern Mindoro.

Mr. Gatchalian said pushing for more RE projects would help bring down the cost of energy compared to coal-fired and gas-powered power plants.

Earlier this month, the DoE said it is looking into upgrading ports that would service offshore wind projects with assistance from the Asian Development Bank.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in April signed an executive order (EO) directing the Energy department to craft a framework that would expedite the rollout of offshore wind projects.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is also tasked to submit to the DoE a list of permits required by all local government units to pursue these projects, according to a copy of the EO.

RE accounted for about 22% of the Philippines’ energy mix, with coal-fired power plants providing nearly 60% as of the end of 2022.

Based on the Philippine Energy Plan 2020 to 2040, the government seeks to raise the contribution to the power mix to 35% by 2030 and to 50% by 2040.

Last year, Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla signed a circular allowing full foreign ownership of RE projects, from the previous cap of 40%.

“There would be no point in removing limitations on foreign ownership if the country’s national grid does not have the transmission facilities that would absorb additional energy output coming from these RE facilities,” Mr. Gatchalian said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez