SOLAR PANELS are seen at an office in San Rafael, Bulacan, Sept. 23, 2023. — PHILIPPINE STAR/EDD GUMBAN

AROUND P1.9 trillion worth of projects, mostly in renewable energy (RE), have been approved to go through the “green lane” system as of April 1, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Tuesday.

In a statement on Tuesday, Trade Secretary and Board of Investments (BoI) Chairman Alfredo E. Pascual said that 59 projects worth P1.9 trillion have been endorsed to the BoI’s one-stop action center for strategic investments that was established last year.

The government had established the “green lane” in all government agencies in order to speed up the approval and registration process for priority or strategic investments.

“Of the 59 projects, 51 are under the RE sector, involving investments totaling P1.57 trillion. The remaining projects are in the digital infrastructure, manufacturing, and food security sectors,” Mr. Pascual said.

Investments in renewable energy projects increased after the Philippine government allowed full foreign ownership in the sector starting November 2022.

Foreign nationals and foreign-owned entities are now allowed to explore, develop and use RE resources such as solar, wind, biomass, ocean or tidal energy in the Philippines. Foreign ownership of RE projects was previously limited to 40%.

Also endorsed to the green lane were four digital infrastructure projects worth P302.16 billion, two food security projects worth P29.61 billion, and two manufacturing projects worth P3.4 billion.

The projects endorsed to receive green lane treatment in the first quarter alone account for P1.4 trillion of the total investments.

Green lanes for strategic investments were created through Executive Order (EO) No. 18, which was signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. last year, to address “investor pain points.”

To be eligible for endorsement, the project must be a strategic investment outlined in the Philippine Development Plan or similar national development plan.

“This whole-of-government approach tackles the bureaucratic hurdles across different agencies, specifically targeting clean energy, infrastructure, green metals, electric vehicles, and pharmaceutical industries,” Mr. Pascual said.

He said that the government must continue to expedite the approval of permits for RE projects in order to meet the target of 35% RE share in the country’s power generation mix by 2030.

Meanwhile, the DTI, together with the Department of Finance, led the ceremonial awarding of green lane certifications to two hydroelectric power projects with a total output capacity of 2,000 megawatts (MW).

The two projects — the 1,400 MW Pakil Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Power project in Laguna and the 600 MW Wawa Pumped Storage 1 Hydroelectric Power project in Rizal — are under Razon-led Prime Infrastructure Capital, Inc.

“These projects’ exceptional capacity and reliability make them crucial players in the Philippines’ transition to a clean energy future,” Mr. Pascual said.

In a separate release, Finance chief Ralph G. Recto said that the two projects will help in the realization of the Philippines’ ambitious goal of increasing the share of RE in its power generation mix to up to 50% by 2040.

Slated to be one of the largest pumped storage power plants in Asia, the P296.99-billion Pakil project will be developed by Prime Infra’s subsidiary Ahunan Power, Inc. The P143.91-billion Wawa project will be developed by another subsidiary, Olympia Violago Water Power, Inc.

The two projects are expected to be operational in 2030.

“In our energy portfolio, we are strategically aggressive in the pumped storage space, given the critical role these projects will play in enabling government transition commitment,” said Prime Infra Chairman Enrique K. Razon, Jr.

“Given the complexity of these projects, the green lane endorsement of DTI and BoI will significantly assist Prime Infra and its subsidiaries in expediting the execution of these initiatives,” he added. — Justine Irish D. Tabile