Philippines allows 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal projects

The Philippines is now allowing full foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal projects, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.

Cusi made the announcement in a recorded speech for the 2nd Global Ministerial Conference on System Integration of Renewables on Tuesday, October 27.

Cusi had signed a department circular on October 20, stating guidelines for the 3rd open and competitive selection process (OCSP3) in the awarding of renewable energy (RE) service contracts.

"From an investment perspective, OCSP3 allows for 100% foreign ownership in large-scale geothermal exploration, development, and utilization projects," said Cusi in his recorded speech.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), large-scale geothermal projects are those with an initial investment cost of $50 million, which would be approved through a financial and technical assistance agreement (FTAA).

FTAAs may be entered into by foreign contractors and the Philippine government for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources. These are signed by the President.

In July, Cusi had hinted at plans to allow full foreign ownership in RE projects – prioritizing geothermal – to strengthen their development.

"Geothermal is actually considered [a] mineral under the [Renewable Energy] Act, and minerals can already be subject of FTAA under the Constitution," National Renewable Energy Board Chairperson Monalisa Dimalanta told Rappler.

Given that mineral resources are not bound by the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership, the government may be able to expand the policy to other forms of RE such as biomass.

Dimalanta also said in a September webinar that the power generation component of large hydropower plants can be undertaken by foreign investors as long as the water rights are held by Filipinos. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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