WIND and solar power must be harnessed not just for the sake of the environment, but also to attract foreign investment in mining, particularly in critical minerals, a US State Department official said.
“The Philippines can take a vulnerability, that we all have, and pursue our desire to diversify our critical minerals supply chain, to attract investment to bring more jobs to the Philippines, and not make countries choose between economic growth and environmental degradation,” State Department Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment Jose W. Fernandez said at a virtual news briefing.
“We had long discussions on critical minerals with the Philippines, (which) after Indonesia has the largest reserves of nickel in the world,” he said.
He said the US is interested in partnering to set up projects that would boost the Philippines’ processing of cobalt and copper.
High energy costs are keeping miners and semiconductor companies from investing in the Philippines, Mr. Fernandez said.
“This is an opportunity to take a vulnerability and make it… an opportunity… turn it into an advantage (considering) that the Philippines has ample wind, and obviously has ample sun,” the US official said.
“It’s something that I know is already on the minds of the government to try and promote and incentivize offshore wind in the Philippines,” he said.
The Philippines has potential offshore wind resources of 178 gigawatts, with large parts of the coast windy enough to power turbines, the Board of Investments (BoI) has said.
On Dec. 21, the BoI issued a certificate of endorsement to Ivisan Windkraft Corp. for its 450-megawatt Frontera Bay Wind Power Project off Cavite, which is poised to become the Philippines’ first offshore wind project.
The project is expected to help the government achieve its target of producing 15.3 gigawatts of clean energy by 2030 under the Philippine Development Plan.
The government is aiming to raise renewable energy’s (RE) contribution to the energy mix to 35% by 2030 and to 50% by 2040. RE currently accounts for 22% of the energy mix.
As of October, the DoE has awarded at least 1,300 RE contracts with total potential capacity of 130,880.8 megawatts.
Mr. Fernandez on Tuesday met with Energy Secretary Raphael M. Lotilla and discussed possible US-Philippine cooperation in renewable energy and civil nuclear energy.
He also met with Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto to discuss US-Philippine tie-ups in critical minerals, semiconductors and energy security.
In November, the State Department said it will collaborate with the Philippines in exploring the expansion of the semiconductor industry in the context of the CHIPS Act of 2022, a US law that seeks to build US capability in developing and manufacturing semiconductors. — John Victor D. Ordoñez