Faster approval process for renewable energy plants sought

A lawmaker on Monday appealed to the Department of Energy (DOE) to expedite the process of approvals for power plants, especially for renewable energy (RE), as the possibility of “energy crunch” looms due to the impact of oil price hikes.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the possible “energy crunch”, or a rise in power and fuel costs, by mid-2022 can cause major problems for countries like the Philippines that import non-renewables for its energy needs, as it could dampen economic recovery.

“The world is facing what could be a year of price hikes on coal, oil, natural gas, and other non-renewable energy sources. We are facing a confluence of factors. Oil is back where it was pre-pandemic. Natural gas is at all-time highs,” Salceda said.

In response to disruptions and price hikes in fossil fuels, he recommended that the country diversify its energy portfolio quickly.

“RE is just 24 percent of our energy sources, when we are both a net importer of fossil fuels, and an excellent location for all sorts of RE. One problem appears to me to be the approval process,” he said.

He noted that the Renewable Energy Law imposes much more requirements on RE players than on traditional fossil fuel plants, which tend to discourage rather than encourage RE power plants.

“We may need to review the Renewable Energy Law to see how we can expedite approval processes. The pre-development stage also tends to be long, up to three years, so we have to see how we can move quicker with that stage,” Salceda said.

He said the ideal mix should be at least 40 percent renewable energy.

“Our international commitment is to get that up to 35 percent by 2030, but we should do ourselves better by aiming for 40 percent, since almost all of our fossil fuels are imported,” Salceda said.

Salceda also suggested that DOE should be a more regular part of discussions on the country’s economic recovery.

“I’ve seen the national employment recovery strategy (NERS) and it says nothing about new power plants, which we sorely need, and which will definitely create new jobs. It’s not even in the National Employment Recovery task force,” he said.

He said approving the creation of pending power plant applications will create new jobs.

“You also need cheap power to create jobs. Moving forward, I hope the DOE is part of discussions on our economic recovery. Power costs remain an investor concern and a dampener on economic recovery,” he said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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