ADB to support renewable energy projects in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/5 Aug) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced today that it is willing to support energy projects for Mindanao to help avert power shortages in the future.

Asian Development Bank Principal Country Specialist Claudia Buentjen presents the accomplished projects in Mindanao supported by the ADB during a press conference in Davao City on Thursday. Beside her is ADB Country Specialist Joel Mangahas. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco But Claudia Buentjen, ADB Principal Country Specialist, told reporters that they cannot yet specify how much of the at least $4 billion of the lending facilities for the country would be allocated for the energy projects.

Aside from the $4 billion loan facility, the ADB has also earmarked $30 million for technical assistance. Both funds are allocated for projects to be implemented from 2011 to 2016.

Although ADB has no clear commitments yet on energy projects, Buentjen said ADB is looking into the development of renewable energy projects such as geothermal plants.

Renewable energies are from natural resources such as sunlight, water, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat.

Asked if it will finance the development of coal mining or coal-fired power plants, she said: “It’s government’s decision.”

The ADB, Buentjen said, is still waiting for the recommendations of the National Development Authority (NEDA), which is expected to be submitted by January next year.

“We have discussed with the local government officials, civil society organizations on the energy problem in Mindanao. And because of climate change, Mindanao may become drier in the future. So these hydro-dams may no longer be reliable,” she told reporters at a press conference here.

However, Buentjen said they could not yet determine specific areas in Mindanao where the ADB would invest.

Last week, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Jesus Dureza has identified energy as among of the long term priorities for Mindanao.

Dureza recalled that when the El Niño dry spell hit Mindanao from January to May this year, the island suffered power outages that affected the business sector.

Currently, Mindanao relies mainly on power derived from hydroelectric sources.

Joel Mangahas, ADB country specialist, added that ADB has poured in funds for energy projects in the country in the last 30 years.

In an ADB report, it showed that as of May 2010, the ADB has financed seven exclusive energy projects in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and Bukidnon amounting to $210 million. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)