RE policy vacuum worries industry players

By Myrna M. Velasco –  June 16, 2017, 10:01 PM

from Manila Bulletin

Investors have been losing sleep for what they now see as lingering ‘policy vacuum’ in the renewable energy (RE) sector because of delayed government actions on key measures that should have been supporting capital flow post the feed-in-tariff (FIT) era for core technologies like solar and wind.

Danish firm Vestas Wind System A/S, which now counts up to 183 megawatts of capacity installations in the country, is among the industry players sounding off such concern. The company is instrumental in supplying wind turbines to and in the development of the 150MW wind farm of Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in Ilocos Norte.

In a statement to the media, Vestas indicated that “wind and solar projects are virtually all halted,” noting further that “this is mainly due to the current RE policy vacuum.” It added that “with no other RE policy mechanism operationally in place, the Philippines is effectively putting to a halt an otherwise flourishing local industry.”

Vestas Asia Pacific President Clive Turton emphasized that “since the FIT2 came to an end, and until other policies come into effect, there is no operational wind regulatory framework.”

He reiterated that the unwarranted pause in wind farm investments, despite hundreds of megawatts being cast on blueprint prior to the culmination of FIT2, could only be reversed once new policies – such as the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Green Energy Option – could be firmed up. The Danish firm said “RE industry stakeholders support the philosophy of the RPS and any other policy tool, which aims to drive RE development and the fulfillment of binding low-carbon and RE targets.”

Nevertheless, it also shares the lament of the entire industry over lingering policy gap, with “no new FIT, no defined new procurement mechanism and RPS yet to be implemented.” It added such policy drag “is delaying new RE installations to the benefit of conventional fossil fuel generation – primarily coal.”

Turton, in particular, has pointed out that “wind development has come a near halt while conventional fossil fuel generation continues to grow significantly.”

In any case, he asserted that “Vestas is committed to help write the next chapter of wind energy development in the Philippines and work with all government and private sector partners.”

Turton said “a wind energy pipeline of several hundreds of megawatts stands to be unlocked with clear policy in place,” adding that “the Philippines has some of the most abundant wind resources in Southeast Asia – and modern wind energy technology is able to generate more power at a lower cost than ever before.”

He stressed “this creates a real opportunity for the country to meet part of its growing electricity needs using competitive, independent and clean wind energy.”