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French firm to scale up PH solar investments

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By Myrna M. Velasco

French multinational electric utility firm Engie will scale up its solar installations in the Philippines, with a grander aim of becoming one of the major players of this flourishing sector in the country.

“We are basically looking to expand our RE (renewable energy) portfolio asset with our partners as investors,” Bert Deprest, head of Renewable Energy Solutions of Engie Southeast Asia, has indicated.

The French company is in a tie-up with the FDC Utilities, Inc. of the Filinvest Group of the Gotianuns on the massive scale solar installations in the country. FDCUI holds 60 percent equity in their joint venture (JV) firm; while Engie has 40 percent stake – the level of allowable shareholdings that foreign firms could have in RE investments in the Philippines.

The Engie-Filinvest joint venture company currently has 6.0-megawatt capacity in their solar portfolio – and the kick-off point had been mostly on rooftop solar installations.

The next target, according to Deprest, will be on utility-scale solar deployments in targeted sites across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao grids – although he has not disclosed yet the extent of what they have been mapping up on blueprint.

“We’re actively looking for utility scale, we also have a wide pipeline on that,” Deprest said, qualifying that “I cannot give a figure yet to that but we all have different projects that we’re currently investigating for development,” he said.

On continued solar rooftop installations, Deprest noted that the JV firm is “in the process of pre-commercial developments,” and the prospective projects are for “commercial and industrial customers in the three regions.” He expounded that “Engie is actually active in Luzon through our district cooling operations; then we basically have facility management operation in the Cebu area; and then our partner Filinvest is in Mindanao.”

The solar investment space is seen to be in a tougher arena of competition moving forward with the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) kicking in to implementation phase next year.

The enticement for RE investors to come to the Philippines could also be complemented by other policies that are due for enforcement, such as the net metering system and the Green Energy Option Program (GEOP) that will then bestow the “power of choice” for Filipino consumers to patronize green energy sources in securing their electricity service.

Engie is one of the world’s biggest players in the energy sector – and its experience and track record in the RE space would be highly beneficial to its partner on targeted investments rollout in the Philippines.

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