MANILA, Philippines – Ocean energy developers is urging the government to finally come out with a feed-in tariff (FIT) rate for the technology to help the sector move forward.
Seven British companies have expressed interest in undertaking large-scale ocean power projects. These are Sgurr Energy, Albatern, Open Hydro, Energy Island Bell Pirie (UK), Ocean Tera, Carbon Trust and IT Power India.
These firms want the government to establish a FIT rate to make investments in the sector viable.
“The ball is really in the court of ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission),” Bell Pirie Power Corp. president Lourdesiree Latimer said.
ERC Market Operations Service director Debora Layugan, for her part, said the power regulator has committed to come out with a decision of FIT for ocean within the year.
“If it’s a denial or an approval, at least we come out with something for us to decide, for the ocean industry to know how to go forward,” she said.
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In 2012, the ERC deferred approval of the FIT for ocean technology and only cleared FIT rates for wind, solar, biomass and run-of-river.
Marlo Marasigan, OIC assistant secretary at the Department of Energy, the power regulator is again reviewing the FIT for ocean.
“I believe ERC is reviving it and conducting public consultation and reviewing the FIT rate for ocean energy,” he said.
The government, however, needs to see first a pilot ocean energy project of at least five to 10 MW in capacity, Marasigan said.
“We have to demonstrate first the technology, we are looking at the commercial ops of a demonstrated project,” Marasigan said.
The pilot project will become the basis of the ERC for a viable and reasonable FIT for ocean, NREB chairman Pete Maniego said.
“Let’s face it, a pilot project is expensive initially. So [ERC] wants more information. Hopefully, the ocean proponent could submit data for ocean energy and if ERC deems it viable, FIT for ocean may happen,” he said.
“That is the bottleneck of the technology, unlike wind and solar which has a lot of available data,” Maniego said.
Bell Pirie, the local arm of Energy Island Bell Pirie Ltd., is in pre-development stage for its 10-megawatt (MW) ocean energy project in Zambales to pilot the technology in the country, Latimer said.