Philippines: First projects under FIT set to go ahead

While electricity prices are high, demand for more supply increasing and sunshine ample, photovoltaics have been slow to develop in the archipelago nation of the Philippines. This has largely been due to government bureaucracy and the extremely slow rate at which projects have been approved either under a PPA or the government’s FIT scheme.

This looks set to finally change, as the government signals that the first projects under the FIT are moving towards approval. The AFP reported early today that renewable energy bureau chief Mario Marasigan said the first photovoltaic power plants under the FIT scheme should be completed in 2014.

"We hope to see the first new renewable installations … under the feed-in tariff system hopefully next year. The most immediate possibility is solar installation," Marasigan told the AFP. Marasigan added that the projects should be between 3 – 5 MW, representing a big boost to the 2.2 MW pv magazine understands was connected to the grid in 2012. A further 3 – 3.5 MW was installed in off grid locations.

The FITs for renewable energy have been a long time coming, with a renewable energy law introducing the FITs being passed in 2008. However, it was only in July last year that the FIT rates were finally confirmed.

The approval process for renewable energy in the Philippines has been criticized by Greenpeace, in the AFP report. "It (the FIT) needs a stronger push from the government … there is too much red tape in renewable energy investments," Greenpeace Philippines’ program manager Beau Baconguis told the AFP.

pv magazine has previously reported that approvals for the grid connection of renewable energy projects and official approvals can cost as much as US$300,000, representing a serious impediment to development – even given the potentially high margins that can be delivered through PPAs.

However, the Philippines energy department’s Marasigan defended the government’s handling of the scheme. "A FIT mechanism is relatively new to us… it took us a while to learn and really decipher what is the best means for us," he said.