SIXTEEN foreign firms have expressed interest to partner with electric cooperatives to put up clean-energy mini grids.

According to the post-event survey conducted by the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) that co-organized the first-ever Philippines Mini-grid Business-to-Business (B2B) Forum in Manila, “16 foreign participants said they would or were very likely to invest in mini grids in the Philippines.”

More than 280 technology providers, project developers and investors from Asia, Europe and North America took part in the Philippines Mini-grid B2B forum.

The forum was staged to provide participants a platform to partner with electric cooperatives in bringing electricity to rural communities by building clean renewable-energy mini grids.

The B2B forum was primarily organized by the Department of Energy (DOE) with the support of the European Union (EU), ARE and National Electrification Administration (NEA).

Among the forum participants were 60 representatives of the government and public sector, such as NEA, National Power Corp. and the Energy Regulatory Commission, 50 from electric cooperatives in the Philippines and 25 investors.

Speaking on behalf of Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, DOE Senior Undersecretary Jesus Cristino P. Posadas said the forum, which was facilitated by the DOE-EU Access to Sustainable Energy Program (ASEP), was a good opportunity to link investors, electric cooperatives and other stakeholders to scale up electrification using sustainable and clean energy to foster economic development.

“The B2B forum is timely as the government of the Philippines is targeting 100-percent electrification by 2020 using the least costly and reliable energy technologies for the many unserved and underserved island grids in the country,” Posadas said.

The recent DOE department circular released in August 2018 establishes the guidelines and rules on the Renewable Portfolio Standards for Off-Grid Areas in the Philippines.

“The department circular mandates power suppliers to source a percentage of the energy supply from sustainable and renewable-energy resources and technologies.” Posadas said.

With 1,702 potential off-grid sites in the Philippines, Ernesto Silvano Jr., director of the Office for Renewable Energy Development of the NEA, affirmed the value of the B2B forum for the 121 electric cooperatives in the country which have to face up to the challenge of electrifying the Philippines by 2020.

“The B2B Forum is a useful platform for electric cooperatives in the Philippines to meet mini-grid technology providers. Half of our electric cooperatives have already been engaging in similar B2B events since the beginning of 2018, and since then, three projects have been completed and two are in the pipeline,” Silvano said.

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