PH now allows 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal projects

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 27) — The Philippines has allowed foreign companies to fully own large-scale geothermal projects in the country in a move away from coal towards renewable energy.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Energy announced the signing of a circular on the guidelines for the third Open and Competitive Selection Process (OCSP3) in the awarding of renewable energy service contracts. It was signed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Oct. 20, but a copy has not been made public.

"From an investment perspective, OCSP3 allows for 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development, and utilization projects,” Cusi was quoted as saying in the agency's statement.

It said Cusi relayed the development during the 2nd Global Ministerial Conference on System Integration of Renewables, which was part of the Singapore International Energy Week 2020.

Large-scale geothermal projects are those with an initial investment cost of about $50 million, approved through a financial and technical assistance agreement. This is entered into between the Philippine government and foreign contractors, and needs the signature of the President.

The Constitution requires 60 percent of a public utility to be owned by Filipinos, but the DOE has said 100-percent foreign ownership is allowed in the renewable energy sector. The department also reportedly allowed foreign companies to fully own and operate biomass power plants last year.

Meanwhile, the DOE has also issued a moratorium on endorsements for greenfield coal power plants, which involve sites that have not been tapped for commercial development or exploitation.

These two developments are seen “to further brighten the prospects of our Renewable Energy (RE) landscape,” the DOE said.

Cusi has been pushing for faster implementation of the country's national renewable energy program, which targets 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2040.