Norwegian firms eye wind, solar power investments in PH

At a glance

  • The Norwegian ambassador credits the determined focus of the Marcos on green energy transition as the major force that has been attracting massive investors' interest into the Philippine energy sector.

Norwegian firms eye wind, solar power investments in PH

By Myrna M. Velasco

Norwegian companies are keenly setting their sights on offshore wind as well as floating solar farm developments in the Philippines, according to Norwegian Ambassador Christian Halaas Lyster.

Apart from these flourishing energy technologies, the ambassador noted that other Norwegian investors' interests are on floating gas facilities, as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG), which will be the perfect complement to the intermittency of renewable energy (RE) technologies, primarily wind and solar.

“There’s a lot of excitement especially in offshore wind because that is the area where Norway has a lot of expertise. We have a lot of maritime technology and also offshore floating gas technology – especially floating technologies; and that is quite interesting here in the Philippines because there are limits to land access,” the envoy said.

He conveyed that there are also Norwegian companies “looking towards floating solar, because here the potential is great – so it’s not only wind, but also floating solar.”

It is worthy to note that Norwegian firm Scatec (formerly SN Power) has been one of the earliest foreign investors that entered the deregulated Philippine electricity market roughly two decades ago – via its investments in hydropower projects in partnership with Aboitiz Power.

“Norway’s energy collaboration with the Philippines began in 2005 when SN Power entered the Filipino market in 2005. Today, the joint venture company owned by Scatec and Aboitiz Power is the largest hydropower company in the country,” he expounded.

It is also Scatec, in its tie-up with Aboitiz Power, that has trailblazed the deployment of floating solar technology in the country and that was done via a pilot venture at their Magat hydropower complex in Isabela province.

Apart from the country’s vast potential for RE resources that can lean on floating technologies, Lyster stressed that “the other factor is: the Marcos administration is very much focused on renewable energy -- and the change in policy opening up for 100-percent foreign ownership makes the Philippines an attractive country for investments.”

The pioneering investment of Norwegian company BW Asia in LNG, via the provision of floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) for LNG to Filipino firm First Gen is similarly regarded as a breakthrough investment of the European firm in the country; which will then help in reinforcing the concretization of the ‘energy transition goal’ of the Philippines.

“The Norwegian business sector can deliver technology and solutions that promote energy transition and contribute to realizing this potential,” the ambassador emphasized.

Lyster added “Norway and the Philippines share ambitions for renewable energy and green growth,” with him sharing that in May this year, “the Norwegian government launched a major offshore wind initiative and the target is to open up areas for offshore wind power production that will generate 30,000 megawatts of power in Norway by 2040.”

By far, Norwegian companies already funneled capital for the first floating wind farm of 30MW capacity outside of Scotland, which has been in operation since 2017; then the other one is the 88MW Hywind Tampen project, which is an installation outside Norway.

Circling back to the Philippine energy sector, the envoy reiterated that “we are very excited for the Philippine government as its message to the entire world is clear: transition to clean, renewable and sustainable energy.”

Lyster primarily credits the initiatives already advanced by the Department of Energy (DOE) through the leadership of Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla, emphasizing that “the preference for utilizing indigenous renewable energy resources is apparent and rightfully so with the ever-increasing cost of fossil fuels.”

Beyond the policy tweak on RE ownership structure for foreign investors, Lyster likewise commended the energy chief’s earlier pronouncement on increasing the target for Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) to 2.52-percent; as well as the ‘preferential’ and ‘must’ dispatch of RE technologies in the merit order set via the electricity spot market.