DOE pushes for ‘energy reservation area’ along PH waters

by Myrna Velasco – June 9, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

Beyond prospective projects on land, the Department of Energy (DOE) is pushing for the demarcation of areas along Philippine waters that shall be reserved for energy resource developments.

One major focus could be for ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and marine energy installations, but some surface water domains are also being explored for solar power developments.

DOE Acting Undersecretary Mario Marasigan noted that the propounded “Energy Reservation Areas” shall become part of the Land and Water Use Bill that shall be lodged with Congress for approval in the next administration.

“We are trying to incorporate this in the proposed Land and Water Use Bill, because in that bill, it will be the government that will identify what would be the profitable and beneficial use of a particular area in energy resources being one of the prime considerations,” he said.

Marasigan explained that the passage of the Land and Water Use Bill, “would have big impact particularly for the energy sector,” especially when it comes to prospective investments.

“In the bill, we must identify which areas must be delineated for energy resource development and what areas will be for environment conservation,” he qualified. He added, “we are looking at surface water for the development of biofuels – and we’re looking at floating solar as part of the utilization of our bodies of water.”

The energy official has admitted though that there are some challenges relative to this policy proposition – primarily in harmonizing the implementation of laws and policies among different local government units (LGUs) as well as coordination with national government agencies. The hurdle, he explained, is “how to coordinate the different local government units (LGUs), to convene the different fishers’ groups for social acceptance concept.”

On the energy department’s part, he indicated that their initial step had been on “initiating the entry to the different communities – it’s one form of assistance that we are doing for the private sector.”

Marasigan has emphasized that in pursuing the legislative measure, the agency’s take-off point had been the policy sphere of the oil and gas sector – wherein some bodies of water had been primarily reserved for exploration and development of the indigenous resources.

“From what we experienced in the upstream oil and gas sector, we will apply the same to the renewable energy developers,” he said.