World Bank backs PH’s renewable energy track with P3.1-B funding

A total of $67 million or about P3.1 billion in assistance have been approved by the World Bank for two renewable energy projects in the Philippines.

The Washington-based multilateral lender’s board of executive directors on May 12 approved a $44-million guarantee under the Philippines Renewable Energy Project (PhRED).
Since PhRED was aimed at reducing the risks of commercial lending to electric cooperatives, the World Bank guarantee “would enable [program beneficiaries] to expand their electricity network, invest in renewable energy like small hydroelectric and solar power plants, and expand electricity access for poor households,” the lender said in a statement Friday.

Last April 28, World Bank vice president Victoria Kwakwa also approved a $23-million grant for the Access to Sustainable Energy Project (Asep), it added.

Through Asep, solar power would be introduced to remote communities currently not connected to the national grid.
“The two projects can boost the country’s energy sector, strengthen economic growth, and help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change,” said Mara K. Warwick, World Bank country director for the Philippines.

“Having electricity in the remote areas of the country meant children would be able to study their lessons at night and their parents can also have more opportunities to earn money from entrepreneurial activities. Initiatives like these can help address poverty and promote shared prosperity,” Warwick added.

For Energy Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada, the two World Bank-assisted projects “can help the government achieve its long-term goals of full electrification by the 2020s and a tripling of renewable energy installed capacity by 2030, as part of the country’s sustainable development agenda.”

“Electric cooperatives, serving over half the Philippine population, would play a big role in the government’s push to reach full electrification. The government provides electrification grants to the electric cooperatives, but these cover only a portion of overall investment needs. Commercial loans were essential for strengthening electricity distribution networks, and banks look to the guarantee provided by PhRED to help manage their risks in providing significant funding amounts to the sector,” Monsada was quoted by the World Bank as saying.
As for Asep, Monsada said this program would allow electric cooperatives to meet their electrification targets by avoiding “uneconomic” line extensions.

Ben O. de Vera
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