Supporting Critical Mineral Supply Chains

by Patricia A. O. Bunye - March 07, 2023

Photo credit: Paul Putong/The United States Embassy for the photos 

The Philippines is acknowledged to be the fifth most mineralized country in the world, with an estimated USD1 trillion in untapped reserves of copper, gold, nickel, zinc and silver. Recent statistics from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) indicate that there are only 49 operating metallic mines, employing around 196,000 workers. In the first semester of 2022, total exports of minerals amounted to almost USD3.851 billion, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) placing the gross production value for large-scale metallic mining at PHP101.1 billion.

The mining industry has been characterized by a number of starts and stops, recognized as a growth driver, but also stymied by policy shifts that frustrate investors, particularly in the last decades.  The pervading negative perception against mining among the general public, exacerbated by disinformation or outright “false news” has not helped.

The current administration has sent positive signals, particularly with strong statements in support of the mining industry, including from Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno who has said that Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that the “mining industry holds the greatest potential to be a key driver in our economic recovery and long-term growth, especially now that world metal prices are high. The Philippines, after all, is one of the world’s most richly endowed countries in terms of mineral resources.”

At the recent Indo-Pacific Business Forum on January 12 sponsored by the United States Embassy, I had the privilege of moderating a panel on “Supporting Critical Mineral Supply Chains for a Just Transition”.  Indeed, coming on the heels on COP 27 [2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference], there is a renewed commitment across the globe to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

With critical minerals [such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, graphite, copper and aluminium] being essential inputs for clean energy technology and battery storage, manufacturers and investors are seeking to diversify their supply chains in the face of rising demand.   Countries like the Philippines, with significant but largely untapped mineral reserves of copper and nickel, therefore have the potential to become key markets supporting diversified, reliable supply chains.

Joining me as panelists were Cielo Magno, Undersecretary of the Department of Finance and former Philippines-Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative Civil Society Representative; Michael Toledo, Chairman of the Chamber of Mines Philippines; and JB Baylon, Chief Risk Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer at Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC).

Our panel explored, among others, the Philippines’ plans for developing our downstream industries and encouraging the processing of minerals locally rather than exporting raw mineral ore.  Certainly, there are lessons to be learned from our neighbor Indonesia, whose approach to banning mineral exports may not necessarily work in the Philippines as well as properly incentivizing domestic processing.

From the private sector, we looked at the Chamber of Mines’ adoption of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) Initiative, which requires mining companies to assess their performance certain key areas such as tailings management, community outreach, safety and health, biodiversity conservation, crisis management, and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions management.

NAC’s multi-awarded programs were also of interest as the company has always set itself apart in dealing with its stakeholders, particularly indigenous peoples and women.

Over at the Department of Energy, notwithstanding that the Philippines remains dependent on fossil fuels for electricity generation, there is a clear call to shift to renewable energy sources, which would not only alleviate future electricity shortages but also address the soaring cost of electricity in the Philippines.

Any shift to renewable energy sources by the Philippines is expected to result in an increase in the requirements for minerals. Solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, wind farms and electric vehicles (EVs) generally require more minerals to build than their fossil fuel-based counterparts. According to the International Energy Agency, an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant. Since 2010, the average amount of minerals needed for a new unit of power generation capacity has increased by 50% as the development of renewable facilities has accelerated.

The types of mineral resources used vary by technology. Lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite are crucial to battery performance, longevity and energy density. Rare earth elements are essential for permanent magnets that are vital for wind turbines and EV motors. Electricity networks need a large amount of copper and aluminium, with copper being a cornerstone for all electricity-related technologies.

If the Philippines is serious about this shift to renewable energy, the Philippine energy sector will need to delve deep into the mineral markets. With the Philippines’ significant but largely untapped mineral reserves, the country has the potential to become a key market, both for the local demand and for foreign requirements.


Patricia A. O. Bunye is a Senior Partner at Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia where she heads its Mining & Natural Resources Department and Energy practice group. She is also the Founding President of Diwata-Women in Resource Development, Inc., a non-government organization advocating the responsible development of the Philippines’ wealth in resources, principally through industries such as mining, oil and gas, quarrying, and other mineral resources from the earth for processing.

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Patricia A. O. Bunye - August 30, 2022

Leadership Lessons from President FVR

Allow me to take this opportunity to pay my respects to our 12th President, Fidel Valdez Ramos, who passed away on 31 July 2022.  PFVR is credited with many things, including ushering a period of stability and creating an environment conducive for investments, but the mining industry is understandably most grateful to him for the passage during his term of Republic Act No. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act.  The Mining Act was but one of the pieces of legislation that were part of “Steady Eddie’s” road to Philippines 2000, which included breaking Marcos Sr.-era monopolies.  Surely no one misses the days when there was only one airline and one phone company, or when there were daily power outages. While I never had the honor and privilege of working for him, I was always in awe of his leadership style. PFVR is well known for having institutionalized complete staff work or “CSW” in Malacanang which, simply put, admonishes all government agencies and his subordinates to “do their homework” before any document reaches his desk. Later administrations would follow his lead and further flesh out and provide details and timelines for more effective CSW.  If I am not mistaken, it was also PFVR’s administration which began using barcodes to track incoming documents. Before the internet age, PFVR was already fond of clipping news articles and writing marginal notes on them in his legendary red pen which we would send to government officials very early in the morning by fax.  These notes would either be reminders, action items or a simple pat on the back.  An aide de camp who spoke at his wake ruefully recounted that his days were filled with collating news clippings for his workaholic boss from dawn until late evening.  At the end of the day, “The Boss” would still ask, “wala na bang papel diyan?”, meaning he was still willing to work when others much younger than he were already exhausted. Listening to other eulogists who shared their memories of PFVR, I was struck by several recurring themes of their years working with him. These were men who were not politicians, but who knew him as a military officer in the field, and who saw him face the challenges of both military and civilian life. From their comments, I gleaned the following leadership lessons PFVR-style:  Take care of your people.  As a military commander, he would not leave checking on the troops to lower ranking officers.  A subordinate recounts being surprised that a younger FVR would go to the field with a bag of medals both as a reward for the hard work of his men and a way of comforting them through their difficulties. According to Brig. Gen. Anthony Alcantara, one important lesson he learned from PFVR is: “(I)f you care enough for the nation you serve, act decisively on what needs to be done.  There is no place far enough or isolated enough that cannot be reached if you wanted to.  Honor every effort as soon as possible of those who sacrificed enough to fulfill their duties.” If you need something done well, put in the time and resources to make it happen.  PFVR’s battlecry was “Let’s show them how to work” and work hard he did, spending long days which would often begin with running with the troops at 4am, which would allow him to hit several birds with one stone: meeting and discussing work concerns while bonding with his team. After the siege of the Manila Hotel on 05 July 1986, when those responsible were only meted pushups when they returned to their barracks, then-AFP Chief of Staff Ramos was severely criticized for the light treatment given to the putschists, ½ of whom belonged to the Constabulary, which he formerly headed. His aides say that lesson to be learned from that experience is: know your true intentions (in taking a course of action).  PFVR then recognized the fragility of the new-post EDSA democracy.  He knew then that his true objective was to unify the AFP which was severely politicized and that any punishment would further divide it.  Keeping the organization intact, professional and strong was worth any criticism hurled at him. Make your organization function well. Be prepared. Anticipate all contingencies. Take every opportunity to improve yourself and serve others well Ask “are you part of the problem or part of the solution”? Strive for a win-win solution.  One former aide recounted a PFVR trick of getting warring cabinet members to come to an agreement by asking them to meet in a small conference room and to revert to him only after they had a workable solution.  Anything important needs to be written.  Despite his famous photographic memory, he was a stickler for writing notes even on the golf course. Practice attentive listening.  An aide recounts a gaffe when he only caught PFVR saying the word “barber” and, in his haste, called former Sen. Robert Barbers, when all PFVR wanted was a haircut.  Lesson learned: don’t assume, but always seek clarification when in doubt. Throughout his six years as President, PFVR was always on-point and on-message with the direction he wanted to take (“Kaya Natin Ito!”).  Whether or not you agreed with him, there was no equivocation about his position.  He also effectively used wit and humor to defuse tense situations, including with the press. Two thumbs up, Mr. President.  Mabuhay!


Fernando Penarroyo - August 30, 2022

Philippine Department of Mines and Energy?

Every time there is a change in administration, the mineral industry always anticipate with bated breath the identity of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (“DENR”) secretary. The presidential appointee is scrutinized whether he or she is either sympathetic to the mining industry or a staunch environmental advocate. This can be attributed to the ambiguous nature and function of the DENR. Under the present setup of the DENR, it is mandated to promote investments in the minerals industry through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and at the same time, enforce national environmental laws through the Environmental Management Bureau. In many jurisdictions, the environment protection agency is totally independent from the administrative body regulating extractive industries. Perhaps it is now high time for Philippine legislators to remove the mining regulation function from the DENR and attach it to a super regulatory body called the Department of Mines and Energy. A reinvigorated Department of Mines and Energy (“Department”) will serve as the foundation for regulating, promoting, and developing Philippine resource-based industries, which represent one main prospect for economic growth. However, this new Department will certainly face challenges, including multiple regulations, inter-institutional conflicts, dearth in the capacity of regulators, and the threat of political interference. The Department should be tasked to provide clear policy direction for the extractive sector and deliver improved industry regulations through a strengthened institutional capacity. It should also introduce reforms in state-owned petroleum and mining companies. More importantly, the Department should create a National Geological Survey Agency to collect a comprehensive geological information system and manage a National Mineral and Energy Database. The Department must implement a transparent and accountable governance framework, and improve effective interactions with other regulatory bodies, private companies, development agencies, and stakeholders. Strengthening Institutional Capacity Institutional capacity requires highly skilled specialists to provide effective regulatory functions to  identify, design, implement, and manage a comprehensive regulatory system. Because the mineral and energy industries are so highly specialized with many technical dimensions, the skills available to the Department should ideally match with those from the private companies it regulates. In order to pursue this, the Department must conduct an organizational and capacity needs assessment. It must craft a plan to deliver the human resources necessary to develop and retain the staff required and implement organizational reforms so that the Department is properly structured to fully deliver its mandate in the areas of policy, regulation, and investment promotion. High standards of transparency and good governance are essential to tackle corruption and ensure the sector delivers benefits to the stakeholders. These include accountable mechanisms for the allocation of mineral and petroleum rights through improved processes in licensing and contract management. It also involves transparent management of non-tax revenue collection like funds for social development and environment rehabilitation. Complementing contract management is improved oversight and compliance. Regulations must provide the structure for the enforcement of laws and the terms and conditions of the contracts and licenses. Inconsistent regulatory decisions brought about by ‘regulator uncertainty’ that occurs in the aftermath of political transition create uncertainty for investors. This justifies the creation of an ‘independent’ regulator composed of tenured civil servants based on professional merits and technical expertise working in an organizational structure shielded from political patronage. Improving the Role of State-Owned Resource Companies Organizational reforms also require consolidating and strengthening ownership in resource companies owned by the state and providing a degree of effective government control and involvement in decision making. Especially for strategic projects, state-owned resource companies can benefit from preferential financing, low hurdle rate expectations, sovereign guarantees, grants, direct government subsidies, tax concessions, preferential treatment in public procurement, and other forms of public support. With this support system, state-owned resource companies should be encouraged to conduct initial exploration work in frontier areas to mitigate geologic risks. Take the case of the Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (“PNOC-EC”). The low capacity of technical personnel and lack of modern equipment are among some of the issues identified with the company. PNOC-EC could have acquired the interests of the divesting companies in the Malampaya natural gas project if it utilized its ability as a national oil company to access capital, human resources and technical services directly from oil field service companies (“OFSC”). OFSCs have been offering national oil companies services, specialized operations, and outsourcing needs with their high technical experience. Their services cover virtually all areas of exploration and production including facilities and reservoir-related services. With the Malampaya acquisition, PNOC-EC can aggressively track new opportunities for growth through access to capital markets, increased profits, and greater participation in technology advancements. Further, it is better able to mitigate political risks through government-to-government relationships and negotiation strategies using the political muscle of the Philippine government. PNOC-EC has the ability to take greater risks, with strategic and geopolitical goals factored into investment decisions rather than being purely based on commercial considerations. A strong PNOC-EC could also have better leveraged in explorating in the disputed West Philippine Sea. In the case of the Philippine Mining and Development Corporation (“PMDC”), direct mining operations may be out of reach for the company at present. PMDC was designated as the implementing arm of the DENR in undertaking the mining and mineral processing operations in the 8,100 hectare Diwalwal Mineral Reservation. However, PMDC can gradually develop capability through knowledge transfer by working in partnership with private companies thereby increasing in-house technical capability. Managing the state’s equity in mineral projects is technically easier than operating mines, but it also requires dedicated professional skills to ensure that the state’s shares yield an appropriate return. In particular, board membership should be filled by skilled professionals who can dedicate substantial time to these tasks. Commercial efficiency is the best way of achieving PMDC’s goals over the long term. Detailed laws and rules on how PMDC is structured and how it interacts with state institutions and private investments, are necessary. The PMDC should also be able to manage itself with sufficient autonomy to make relevant and timely decisions. However, public accounts should be maintained in accordance with international standards and subject to independent audits. Establishing a National Geological Survey Agency Too often, regulators are bogged down by the sheer volume of monitoring, inspections, and extension work required. Also, the workload spent by technical personnel in contract monitoring results in insufficient time to assess the resource potential of the country, which is primarily the mandate of a Department handling the mineral and energy industries. Under the present set-up, technical personnel must also engage in the inspection of small-scale operations and geo-hazards aside from contract compliance duties. The mineral and energy industries are capital and technology-intensive, which means that the country will need to attract significant private sector investment. One method to attract investment is by providing modern geological information to investors and this can be adequately fulfilled by a National Geological Survey Agency (“NGSA’). The Department shall be solely responsible for the establishment and control of an NGSA whose task is to conduct a comprehensive geologic survey and provide reliable scientific information on how to manage energy and mineral resources. The survey will contribute important data to the Department and other agencies and compile assessments of minerals, energy, and other resource potential. The NGSA shall also provide services on geological mapping, geotechnical investigation, hydrogeological mapping, geophysical and geochemical mapping as well as basin analysis. It shall also engage in mineral and petroleum resources exploration and evaluation. By building technical capacity in the NGSA, the Department will improve the understanding of the country’s resource endowment and provide geoscientific information to investors. National Mineral and Energy Database Ease of access to a mineral and energy database facilitates investment into the extractive industries of a country. As such, having the digital infrastructure to host this data administered by the NGSA, is important for attracting new investments. The database will serve as a central depository for resource data and will be made available to the public on a centralized web and cloud platform for easy information access. The availability of additional information reduces uncertainty and increases investor confidence. Information and knowledge increase resource certainty and reduce risk, which allows better access to risk capital for further exploration as well as a more accessible and manageable base from which to develop a portfolio of resource projects. The digital platform to be used for access to the data bank can also be utilized in the submission of information to regulators for monitoring and compliance purposes. The Department should also continue to adapt to a standard global classification system that addresses the probability of risk based on a set of resource criteria and attributes. This classification system would provide developers and potential investors with more information, and as a tool for resource valuation, allowing for the development of risk-balanced portfolios. Such standardization is critical to make informed decisions on development opportunities. The implementation of the resource classification system would provide the industry a clearly defined framework to evaluate prospects and establish a common industry language for resource and risks assessments. The Department and private industry should aim for the recognition by financial institutions and stock exchanges of the resource classification system to facilitate access to capital. Enhancing Government Collaboration and Economic Linkages While the Department shall have the primary responsibility for developing extractive industries, it also recognizes that many of its activities will require collaboration and linkages with other institutions. Inter-institution coordination among other resource-regulating agencies not directly under the supervision of the Department like local government units, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Energy Regulation Commission and other agencies will lower the transaction costs of developers. Regulation of the extractive industries requires all responsible government agencies to work together and collaborate to strengthen regulation. As the main government agency for the extractive industries, the Department will take a leadership role in institutional collaboration to improve information flow and regulation, and streamline economic development. The Department should manage the effective coordination and collaboration of regulatory activities across the wide range of agencies that ideally should be involved in different aspects of extractives regulations. Many downstream activities like the processing of minerals require access to low-cost power in order to be competitive. This is where coordination within the Department of Mines and Energy can easily facilitate this major hurdle in developing a viable mineral processing industry. International markets for processed mineral are highly-competitive and it is difficult to compete without relying on a facility where a major cost of production is electricity. Another instance where the mining and energy function can be coordinated by the Department is the setting up of the regulatory frameworks for hybrid micro-grids. A key advantage of off-grid power plants is that it can power the energy needs of mining operations in remote areas, where the cost of building the infrastructure required to hook the mine up to the grid network or building a conventional power station will be significant. By having a dedicated off-grid power source, a mining operation can meet all its energy requirements and make significant cost savings in the price it pays for electricity. Micro-grids involve a combination of power sources, usually diesel or natural gas generators combined with some renewable energy resources. In addition, given the significant involvement of the donor community in the extractive sector, the Department shall also establish a donor coordination forum for extractive sector activities. The economic linkages spearheaded by the Department will maximize the economic impact of extractive industries. Such linkages will also improve the efficiency and effectiveness of donor funding. Inclusion in Conflict Resolution Petroleum and minerals development has often been cited as a key factor in triggering and escalating violent civil conflicts. It is most likely to occur where local communities have been systematically excluded from decision-making processes, when the economic benefits are concentrated in the hands of a few, and when extractive industries clash with social and environmental concerns of local communities. Unwillingness to address these issues in peace agreements becomes a potential source of conflict in the future. The Department through an active involvement in the peace negotiations can articulate the natural resource issue into the process. Another instance where the involvement of the Department and the national oil company can be put into good use is in the assertion of the country’s sovereignty over petroleum resources in the West Philippine Sea. Conclusion Combining the Mines and Geosciences Bureau with the Department of Energy to form a strengthened Department of Mines and Energy will ensure economic growth and sustainable development in the mining and energy sectors. The strengthened Department will provide a stable regulatory framework able to manage the country’s resources and better respond to the strategic objectives espoused in the country’s development objective.   Fernando “Ronnie” S. Penarroyo specializes in Energy and Resources Law, Project Finance and Business Development. He is also currently the Chair of the Professional Regulatory Board of Geology. He may be contacted at for any matters or inquiries in relation to the Philippine resources industry and suggested topics for commentaries. Atty. Penarroyo’s commentaries are also archived at his professional blogsite at Additional Readings Addison, Tony and Roe, Alan, Extractive Industries - the Management of Resources as a Driver of Sustainable Development,  UNU-Wider Studies in Development Economics, 2018, Al-Fattah, Saud L., National Oil Companies: Business Models, Challenges, and Emerging Trends, March 2014, Copper Giants: Lessons from State-Owned Mining Companies in the DRC and Zambia, Natural Resource Governance Institute, 2014,


Philippine Resources - March 07, 2023

Offshore Wind Energy: the Payoff for the Philippines’ Science & Technology and Supply Chain Sectors

Commentary by: Mr. Francisco “Jun” Delfin Mr. Francisco “Jun” Delfin is Vice President & COO of PetroGreen Energy Corp. (PGEC) and President of Maibarara Geothermal Inc. (MGI), subsidiaries of publicly-listed and Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC) affiliate PetroEnergy Resources Corp.  He is a geologist with a PhD in public administration from the University of Southern California (USC).  His work experience spans private industry as YGC executive since 2008, professional geological practice with PNOC-EDC, government service as DOE Asst. Secretary and Undersecretary during the Arroyo administration, academia as Asst. Professor at UP National College of Public Administration & Governance and non-profit as past President of the Geological Society of the Philippines in 2009. Introduction Over the past 2-3 years, we have seen dramatic disruptions in global energy markets brought among others by the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and deepening concerns about fossil fuels’ impact on the earth’s climate. Such challenges have caused escalating energy costs, power supply shortfalls, rejection of fossil fuels especially coal, sustained shift to renewables and even a renewed focus on nuclear energy in many countries. The collective transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon energy future has led countries and organizations to adopt net zero policies, committing by different target years to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible. Offshore wind development benefits from these sweeping changes in the global energy landscape. In 2021, a record 21.1 GW of offshore wind capacity was installed, bringing cumulative global offshore wind capacity to 56 GW according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Europe and Asia are the leading regional market with 50.4% and 49.5% of the world’s total installations, respectively. Moreover, annual offshore wind energy growth is forecast to rise significantly to 8.4% in 2025-2030 from a modest 1.7% growth in 2020-2024. In Asia, high growth are expected in the following countries: China with 60-70 GW of capacity by 2030, Japan with 10GW by 2030 and 30-45 GW by 2040, Taiwan with 5.5 GW by 2025 and 20 GW by 2035, South Korea with 12 GW by 2030, and Vietnam with 9 GW by 2035 and 15 GW by 2040. Given its geographic setting, the Philippines should harness this fastgrowing clean energy resource not only for much needed power supply but also for the benefits it will confer on the country’s S&T and industrial sectors. Offshore Wind Development in Philippines The offshore wind (OSW) industry is in a nascent stage and can be said to officially begun in the country in April 2022 when the World Bank and the DOE completed and launched the Offshore Wind Road Map for the Philippines. This study is groundbreaking because it documented the country’s 178 GW OSW technical potential, identified six (6) high priority zones for development (Fig. 1), outlined two growth scenarios for the OSW industry, and specified recommendations to overcome challenges to such growth. This fledgling industry got a tremendous policy boost in the new Marcos, Jr.’s administration with the country’s top two energy officials – President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and DOE Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla – being staunch advocates of indigenous renewable energy development in general and wind power in particular. Several major policy decisions in quick succession demonstrated the government’s commitment to renewable energy and offshore wind and thus laid the groundwork for necessary private investments in the industry. In September 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an opinion that the foreign equity cap on certain natural resources does not apply to wind, solar, and tidal energy resources. In November 2022, the President approved the DOE’s proposed offshore wind program and directed the agency, among others, to lead and harmonize the permitting process to expedite development and utilization of offshore wind (Figure 2). In December 2022, the DOE amended the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the 2008 RE Law, allowing 100% foreign ownership in wind, solar, and tidal energy resources. But even before the World Bank study and the onset of the new government a few local companies and their foreign partners have quietly moved into offshore wind. Two such early venturers were Triconti ECC Renewables and PetroGreen Energy Corp. (PGEC). The latter, a member of the Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC), partnered with Danish firm Copenhagen Energy to acquire three service contract blocs in Northern Luzon, Northern Mindoro, and East Panay. Admittedly, decisive policy actions by the new administration spurred more private sector interest in OSW. Thus, by end 2022, the DOE had awarded forty-three (43) OSW service contracts to twenty (20) individual companies with an aggregate target capacity of 33 GW. Even if only a fraction of these blocs is eventually developed, the medium- and long-term benefits for the country would be enormous. Figure 2. Pres. Marcos, Jr meeting with DOE Secretary Lotilla in Malacanang in November 2022 when the President approved DOE’s offshore wind development program. OSW Benefits: Payoff for Science & Technology (S&T) Clearly, the country’s power sector will be the primary beneficiary of OSW development. It can help achieve the DOE’s goal of increasing RE’s share in the generation mix from the current ~20% to 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2040. Such aspiration requires additional RE capacities of 22 GW by 2030 and by another 52 GW by 2040 under the clean energy scenario in the DOE’s 2020-2040 Philippine Energy Plan. OSW can help provide these additions even if only a modest fraction of OSW’s 178 GW technical potential is harnessed. Also, with its ideally large capacity of >300-500 MW for a single wind farm combined with its high capacity factors (35-45%), OSW is arguably the best among RE options to replace coal generation in the country. But while advantages of OSW are obvious for the country’s power supply, less recognized is the significant positive spill-over benefits that OSW can contribute to the country’s science and technology (S&T) sector. The first immediate S&T beneficiaries of large-scale OSW development are our applied geological and environmental sciences and professions. There are three interrelated facets of OSW development where geological and environmental sciences will be employed and knowledge enhanced.First, a multi-agency marine spatial planning is necessary to minimize conflicts among competing uses of the marine environment. Whether government- or academe-led, marine spatial planning involves the collection not only of primary geoscientific and environmental data but also of social and cultural data over prospective or identified zones of OSW development. These data and their objective and professional analyses would be the foundation from which prospective OSW and pre-existing activities could be coordinated, integrated, and regulated and thus help avoid or reduce disputes among legitimate uses. During the feasibility study and development of the OSW projects, geological, atmospheric, and environmental sciences will be critical tools by which private developers can validate their block’s energy yield, establish the area’s average and extreme wind and ocean current conditions, characterize the bathymetry and bedrock geology of the prospective site, and evaluate the most appropriate foundations and mooring for their offshore wind turbines. Considerable primary scientific data will be gathered by such survey methodologies as floating LIDAR (Fig. 3), multi-beam echo sounding, side-scan sonar, magnetomery, shallow seismic survey, seabed coring, and many others. Environmental impact and geo-hazards risk assessments are the third facet of OSW development where environmental and geological knowledge will be enhanced and employed. Characterization of the baseline marine environment, including aquatic life and cultural artifacts, is necessary in assessing potential transient- and long-term environmental effects of OSW development. Among these possible consequences are seabed disturbance and noise, under-sea electromagnetic fields, marine habitat and livelihood loss. Similarly, geo-hazards investigation and monitoring would play critical role in ensuring the safe operations of the wind farms from extreme events such as super-typhoons, earthquake-induced tsunamis and landslides, ground shaking, and liquefaction. Apart from the positive externalities to applied geological and environmental sciences, OSW utilization can also bring about large-scale commercial green hydrogen production in the Philippines. This technological payoff will have many industrial and commercial applications a few decades from now, including energy medium for hard-to-abate sectors such as land transportation, aviation, and shipping, fuel for industrial heating, and chemical feedstock for refining, ammonia, and fertilizers. How is OSW going to birth a green hydrogen industry in the Philippines? Globally, hydrogen is already in use especially in chemical and petroleum refining. But the hydrogen used is one derived from hydrocarbons and the process emits significant CO2. Large capacity OSW power plants in the future can provide the potentially cheaper power source by which “green” hydrogen can be produced through electrolysis of water more economically and without any carbon involvement either in the raw material or in the process by-product. OSW Benefits: Payoff for the Supply Chain Sector Building the country’s capacity to deliver the components and services to build, operate, and maintain offshore wind farms is a major challenge but can also be a boon for our supply chain industries. To be sure, foreign suppliers and service providers will play an important role in the process but a sustainable and competitive OSW industry will inevitably require national capacities nurtured by public investments and private resources. Setting aside those related to our power transmission infrastructures, among the key services, sectors, and professions in the country that can benefit immensely from an OSW industry are vessels, ports and harbors, storage and warehousing facilities, logistics companies, manufacturing, construction including crane services, survey companies, environmental and geological professionals, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering, and educational institutions. In the Philippines, perhaps the supply chain sector in most in need of early and focused government action are ports and harbors. During development of OSW farms, ports near the site with sufficient depths and large lateral areas are needed for delivery, laydown and storage of large components imported from overseas suppliers. Assembly of wind turbines will be done quayside and with hardstand suitable for heavy lift cranes as the turbines will be towed fully assembled from the port to their final installation site at sea. And during the operations and maintenance phases of OSW farms, the port will serve as warehouse, office, and housing facilities for staff and contractors transiting out to the wind power site. Hence, existing Philippine ports have to be expanded or new ones close to the sites constructed. Key parameters for OSW ports are given in Figure 4. In should be stressed that though port improvements for OSW can be costly, such large facilities can generate not only employment during construction but can serve non-OSW related economic activities such as fisheries, inter-island shipping, cruise ships and tourism, and even educational facilities. It is not hard to imagine that creating a national OSW supply chain can generate thousands of skilled and non-skilled jobs in the Philippines. Such commitment, efforts, and funds for building a viable delivery system, however, would only payoff in terms of employment generated, CO2 emissions avoided, gross value added to the economy, and of course power generated if the target OSW capacity is relatively large. If the goal is only 3GW of OSW capacity by 2040, as in the World Bank’s low-growth scenario, the costs of building a national supply chain system to service a small OSW industry may not make economic sense. Closing Remarks: Challenges to OSW Development and Utilization Even as the energy, environmental, scientific, technological, and commercial imperatives of large-scale OSW development are clear and compelling, we must be realistic that significant obstacles exist that can prevent the country from achieving those benefits. At the most optimistic scenario, the earliest the country can see OSW power generation would be around 2030. If the Marcos Jr administration hopes to compress this timeline to around 2028, then much work and hard decisions must be done now. Challenges come in two broad arenas: policy alignment and infrastructure development. Building on the welcome lifting of foreign equity restrictions on renewables, realignment of differing or conflicting policies among executive agencies involved in maritime resources and grid connection is absolutely crucial. Perennial but so far wishful recommendation on a “one-stop shop facility” for energy permitting must be replaced by the hard but inescapable need for the DOE to be in charge of all permits on behalf of other government units, if the permitting process will not become the quicksand in which OSW development will sink and vanish. In other words, private developers should only face the DOE in securing national government approvals; in turn, the DOE should be vested with procedural rights, through an Executive Order, to issue all permits on behalf of other agencies so long as the latters’ substantive rules on offshore wind are respected by the DOE. Obviously, this is easier said than done but piloting such a simplified permitting process for one advanced OSW project maybe the way to go initially. Implementation of such system to all OSW projects can then done subsequently once kinks have been ironed out. Though there are many supporting infrastructures, broadly defined, that will be crucial in birthing a viable OSW industry, three fields are especially critical. These are high-voltage transmission connection, ports and harbors, and an offtake mechanism for power generated. Discussions about grid enhancements are too detailed and beyond the scope of this brief paper. Suffice it to say, however, that NGCP and TRANSCO have the resources and access to internal and external expertise needed to build and enhance our existing grid facilities and protocol to allow utilization of large-scale OSW if given clear mandate from the political leadership. But for ports and harbors, much more planning, investments, and hard infrastructures are needed now for maritime agencies of the Department of Transportation, namely the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Administration (MARINA). The third “supportive infrastructure” relates to an offtake mechanism and the DOE and the Energy Regulatory Commissions (ERC) must by this time study an offtake auction mechanism exclusive to OSW. For the government, this is a way to kick-start development by structuring auction to realize early capacity at the lowest possible cost. For private developers and lenders, offtake security via auction enhances commitment to mobilize risk money and motivates efficiency and innovation. Admittedly, it will take a while for such an auction mechanism to be fashioned but even a general early statement from the government that such mechanism is under consideration will send a strong positive signal to investors. In closing, it should be stressed that while many sectors will benefit from large-scale OSW development, the ultimate goal of such investments and efforts should be to lower retail electricity costs to consumers. An abundant, indigenous, and clean power source less immune to global fuel prices and foreign exchange disruptions can help eventually bring down power rates while transitioning to a low-carbon society. Offshore wind energy provides that opportunity.   References:  UN. 2023. For a livable planet: Net-zero commitments must be backed by credible action. Available at _AIVEjUrCh2e3wdYEAAYBCAAEgKLpfD_BwE. GWEC. 2022. Global Offshore Wind Report 2022. Available at World Bank Group. 2022. Offshore Wind Road Map for the Philippines. Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank Group. See for example: CNN Philippines Staff. 2022. DOJ: Renewable energy sector excluded from foreign investment cap.; DOE. 2022. Media Releases dated Nov. 11, Nov. 17, and Nov. 22. Available at and DOE. 2022. Philippine Energy Plan 2020-2040. Taguig City: Department of Energy. Delfin, Jr. F.G., Vasquez, A.A., Olivar, M.V.M. and Ventura, Y.V. 2022. Offshore Wind Energy: The Next Frontier in Renewable Energy Development and Applied Geosciences in the Philippines. Plenary Presentation at the 2022 Geocon. Geological Society of the Philippines. DNV. 2022. Hydrogen Forecast to 2050. Energy Transition Outlook 2022. Available at Carbon Trust. 2021. ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Programme: Offshore Wind Delivery Framework (Part 2). Webinar Presentation, 18 June 2021 BuhaWind Energy. 2022. Initial View on Infrastructure. Internal BuhaWind Report, Nov. 8, 2022.

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Philippine Resources - March 23, 2023

PH, Australia partner for technical cooperation for PPP

Photo: Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM. Credit: AusAmbPH Twitter Page As the Marcos administration becomes bullish in utilizing a public-private partnership (PPP) model in infrastructure projects, the Australian government will be providing its technical expertise in rolling out infrastructure projects under the PPP. Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM told the Philippine News Agency in an interview at her residence Wednesday that the embassy will be launching the Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I) on March 24. “Infrastructure is a big area that the Philippines is focusing on, and I know President (Ferdinand R.) Marcos (Jr.) has announced that he wants to utilize PPP more where it’s possible. So we are working closely with the Philippine government to share with them how Australia has done it,” Yu said. P4I is an Australian government initiative that brings together experts from the public and private sectors as well as the academe to help Philippine government agencies involved in infrastructure development in the preparation stage of projects that would be under a PPP model. “We can help them with all the project preparation stage. How you do actual cost-benefit analysis of potential projects, and then how you prepare documents for possible procurement, tender processes, and things like that,” the envoy cited. She said that aside from the PPP Center, the P4I also aims to closely work with other agencies including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, the Department of Finance, and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), among others. Yu added that the Australian government will be closely working with the administration through the P4I in meeting its diverse infrastructure requirements, including roads, transport, energy, and public investment management. The Australian envoy said a number of Australian companies have been involved in infrastructure projects in the country. Early this month, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan announced that the NEDA Board approved PHP9 trillion worth of flagship infrastructure projects, with 45 of these projects possibly being funded through PPPs. “The government shall harness the financial and technical resources of the private sector, which allows the public sector to allocate its funds for greater investment in human capital development, especially to address the scarring in health and education due to the pandemic, and provided targeted assistance that protects vulnerable sectors from economic shocks,” Balisacan had said. By Kris Crismundo   Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency


Philippine Resources - March 21, 2023

PBBM boosts transport sector thru big-ticket projects

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