Sunday, 27 September 2009

Philippines a major renewable energy investment destination


Two of the Philippines’ leading trading partners have expressed optimism that the country would be a major destination for renewable energy investments.

British Ambassador Stephen Lillie and Dr. Walter Salzer, of the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), noted the potential of the Philippines in gaining investors in the production of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energies.

CLEAN ENERGY. Both British and German investors are optimistic that the Philippines would become one of the leading consumers of alternative and renewable energy sources.File photo by Joseph Holandes Ubalde

“The Philippines could be the ‘Saudi Arabia of Biomass.’ It has got the right conditions in place," Lillie said.

In 2007, British company Bronze Oak established San Carlos Bioenergy. Besides being expected to supply 100,000 liters of ethanol, the facility is seen to generate nine megawatts (mW) of electricity and another five mW for export to the grid.

Another British company is eyeing a methane power plant in the former landfill in Montalban, Rizal, Lillie said.

While British investors are enthusiastic about the Philippines’ renewable energy prospects, domestic banks have not shown support for such investments, so far.

The country – Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economy two years ago – ranked ninth among emerging markets for global investors this year from 23rd place a year ago, new research released by the UK Trade and Investment said.

The UK is the top contributor to the Philippines’ foreign direct investments, placing $298.17 million last year by acquiring long-term stakes in local companies, putting up factories, or purchasing equipment.

“It would be great if the Philippine banks would show enthusiasm for this," he said.

Meanwhile, Salzer, GTZ’s program head, said the pressing issue of climate change has prompted many German companies to go green.

With this development, they have turned to emerging economies like the Philippines to establish renewable energy sources.

“Renewable sources are hardly used but have high potential in the Philippines," Salzer said during the launch of the Mabuhay Germany trade expo on Thursday.

Germany has replaced 70 percent of its energy consumption to renewable sources after setting up systems for the general population to easily invest in alternative energies like solar or wind, he said.

The German government has helped the Philippines address climate-change related concerns through its Official Development Assistance agencies such as the GTZ, KfW Development Bank, German Development Service, among others.

KfW, Europe’s biggest promotion bank, has even provided a significant portion of some €10 million (roughly Php680 million) in German-Philippine Technical Cooperation and €46.7 million (Php3.2 billion) in German-Philippine Financial Cooperation.

Germany is the Philippines’ second biggest European trading partner that is consistently within the country’s top ten biggest investors.

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