KORONADAL CITY(MindaNews/25 June) – Renewable energy (RE) projects in Mindanao awarded by the Department of Energy (DOE) have the potential to generate at least 355 megawatts of electricity.
But the meticulous permitting process is hampering the construction of additional RE projects that the DOE is addressing by streamlining the procedure, an official said.
As of May 2013, the agency awarded 43 hydropower projects to various companies in the different parts of the island, DOE data showed.
Mario Marasigan, director of DOE’s Energy Utilization and Management Bureau, said a proponent needs to secure at least 100 signatories to pursue an RE project.
“We’re working to drastically shortcut the process,” he told reporters recently in an energy workshop in Manila.
Marasigan said that most of the signatories required in pursuing an RE project “are not from the DOE” but from other government agencies, including local government units down to the barangay level.
He cited that for a one-megawatt RE project, the “highest number of signatories they monitored reached 139, with just 30 coming from the DOE.”
Sources of RE include water, solar, wind and geothermal, to name a few.
Until now, Mindanao’s power supply comes mostly from RE through the hydropower plants operated by the state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor), at 52 percent of the supply chart.
Romeo Montenegro, Mindanao Development Authority director for investment promotion and public affairs, said that while the government is pushing for renewable energy to help stabilize power supply in the island, committed and indicative investments in the area are still dominated by fossil fuel sources.
“Coal is the in thing,” he said of the new and potential power generating facilities coming up in Mindanao.
The share of fossil fuels in the island’s energy mix is rising and we have yet to fully tap clean, renewable and indigenous power sources to minimize the environment cost, Montenegro said.
To develop an RE project, he said the developer needs at least seven years to get approvals and another two years for the permitting process.
Montenegro said the committed power generating projects that are expected to go on stream in Mindanao between this year to 2016 can produce 580 MW–of which 500 MW is from coal, 30 MW from oil and 50 MW from geothermal.
On the other hand, Montenegro said that as of March 2013, the indicative coal power projects for Mindanao with target commissioning until 2020 reached 1,825 MW, of which 1,200 MW is proposed by diversified beverage giant San Miguel Corp.
The indicative RE projects in Mindanao, also as of March 2013, would produce only 107 MW, he added.
Mindanao’s power supply problem will persist if no new generation facilities will go on stream in the next two to three years, Montenegro noted.
Nowadays, Mindanao has sufficient power supply, but the brownouts that hit parts of the island lasting up to eight hours daily a few months ago would be back by August up to December because power plants are scheduled to go on preventive maintenance shutdown, he said.
The brownouts that hit parts of Mindanao prior to the May 13 elections were blamed on the reduced generation capability of Napocor’s hydropower plants due to the dams’ declining water level. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)