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UK firms find rich ocean energy potential in PH

Investors from the United Kingdom said the Philippines has a big potential for ocean energy production as they called for government support especially on the revival of the shelved guaranteed incentives for developers.

Officials from UK-based and UK-focused companies OpenHydro Group Ltd., SgurrEnergy Ltd., Albatera, Aquatera Ltd., IT Power, and Bell Pirie Power (Philippines) said they have ongoing developmental and commercial projects elsewhere in the world but they were keen on pursuing projects in the Philippines and other Asian countries, which have vast marine resources and are fast emerging as growth areas.

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Bell Prie Power (Philippines) CEO Lourdesiree Latimer said there was a “headspinning” potential for ocean energy production in the Philippines, especially in the west side of Luzon. “That is the Silicon Valley of ocean energy.”

An initial combined capacity of 100 megawatts (MW), developed jointly by several firms, would encourage other investors and bring the production cost down to more affordable levels, she said.

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Open Hydro Group Ltd. project development head Garrett Connell said his company was keen on bringing its turbine system to the Philippines for local production. “We have 900 megawatts (MW) of projects under development worldwide and we are looking at developing a market in the Philippines and in Asia.”

Sgurr Energy business development manager David O’Hare said tidal turbine systems developed by the company may be used in open waters and in run-of-river systems in the country.

Albatera commercial director David Campbell said his company, meanwhile, was considering bringing small-scale wave turbine technology for use not only in open waters but also in fish farms across the Philippines.

Department of Energy (DOE) OIC and Asssistant Secretary Mario Marasigan said the government was currently assessing potential ocean energy sites that it could offer to investors.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) was also studying proposals to revive the feed-in-tariff (FIT) program for ocean energy, which was shelved in 2012 because of lack of project proponents. The FIT program provides guaranteed incentives for developers who can make the cut.

Layugan said ERC has committed to come up with “something” before the end of the year to guide investors on the viability of their projects.

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