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Biomass industry lobbying for more FiT-subsidized capacity

THE biomass industry is seeking a larger allocation of renewable-energy capacity eligible for subsidized feed-in tariff (FiT) rates, to broaden participation in the biomass and hydro power segments, a developer said.

Dapat i-increase iyon (the installation capacity) eh…Kasi once you allow them, there will be more players. The difficulty lang is ‘yung development time, matagal ang hydro eh (We should increase the installation capacity eligible for FiT. Once you allow it, there will be more players. The difficulty lies in the development time for hydro, which takes a long time),” Don Mario Y. Dia, president of Biomass Renewable Energy Alliance, Inc. (BREA), told BusinessWorld in a phone interview on Dec. 29.

The Department of Energy (DoE) extended the deadline once more for FiT applications by developers of run-of-river hydropower projects. It did not set a date, but will declare applications closed once the 250-megawatt  (MW) capacity quota is reached.

He said that the government should let finished hydro projects that exceed the installation capacity subscribe for the FiT program.

Dapat i-allow na iyon…Sunk in na ‘yung cost mo. ‘Yung building, biglang lalampas ka dun sa capacities ng target, papaano iyon, we’ll stop them? Hindi dapat ganun, hindi developmental eh (It should be allowed. These are sunk costs. If the project exceeds the quota, you can’t just bar them? That doesn’t promote the industry’s development),” he said.

He said the industry is requesting an increase of 100 MW on top of the 250-MW installation capacity for biomass projects eligible to apply for FiT.

Kasi ‘yung mga nakatapos exceeded 250 eh, and sana dapat pinapasok na lang iyon. (The finished projects that went over the required 250-megawatt installed capacity should have been allowed),” Mr. Dia said.

In a text message Sunday, National Renewable Energy Board Chairperson Monalisa C. Dimalanta said that the DoE has been adopting the “rule of indivisibility” in its other RE projects.

Should finished output go over the installed capacity, “the entire capacity of the project would be deemed FiT-eligible even if there is a portion that exceeds the 250 MW limit,” Ms. Dimalanta told BusinessWorld.

“That’s how it has been applied to other technologies. We are expecting (the) same treatment for river hydro if and when it happens,” she said.

DoE Spokesman Felix William B. Fuentebella said that the department will adhere to the rule of indivisibility once run-of-river projects exceed the quota.

“If there are 245 MW subscribed already and the last plant is 10 MW, which will go beyond 250 MW, the last plant is given FiT on the whole 10 MW,” he told BusinessWorld in a Viber message Sunday.

He said the adjustment is appropriate for river hydro plants since they are “more challenging to construct and require more permits.”

In a department circular issued in 2015, the installation targets for solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind were raised to 500 MW and 400 MW, respectively.

The DoE has committed to raise the share of RE in the power mix to at least 30%, aided by the FiT incentives and other provisions of the RE Act of 2008. — Angelica Y. Yang

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