Investors can bring in some “50,000 good-paying jobs” to the Philippines if the country allows foreigners to have a majority stake in renewable energy companies, Norway’s ambassador to the Philippines said Wednesday.
“The World Bank talks about up to 50,000 jobs, good-paying jobs for Filipinos if you are successful in developing this new sector, [but] that requires some adjustments and policies on the Filipino side,” Norwegian Ambassador Bjorn Jahnsen said in a press conference.
While the Public Service Act of 2022 now allows foreigners full ownership of companies in industries not designated as public utilities, an official of the Department of Energy was quoted in a newspaper report last year saying that legislation may be needed for foreigners to own solar and wind projects.
Under the Philippine constitution, foreigners in certain industries can only own up to 40 percent of a company while the remaining 60 percent must be owned by a Filipino.
Foreigners however are already allowed to fully own other renewable energy projects like geothermal and biomass.
Jahnsen said foreign companies should be able to own a majority of the equity in these types of investments as they often require billions of dollars and investors need to be certain they would get a majority stake in their investment.
“So if the Philippines is successful in this endeavor, as I mentioned, I think thousands of jobs can be created,” Jahnsen said. Norway wants to increase its “imprint on renewable energy” in the Philippines, specifically offshore wind farms where Norway leads, he said.
Jahnsen said the offshore wind business is expected to become an “important new sector” that could present “great opportunities for the Philippines in the future.”
Jahnsen said the Philippines’ growing economy means energy consumption will also increase and “offshore wind is really one of your best bets for the future.”
“Offshore wind is basically the best wind resource in the Philippines and in many countries,” he said.
Jahnsen said he invited President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to speak at a climate change conference in October.
“We are organizing a conference on maritime and energy issues and I have invited the President-elect to come and speak at the conference about renewable energy in the Philippines,” Jahnsen said.
The 2-day Norway-Philippines Maritime and Energy Conference was organized as part of the docking of the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, a 108-year old Norweigian tall ship that is on a circumnavigation expedition to raise awareness on climate change and the harmful effects of plastics in oceans.
“It’s part of [an] expedition around the world to really put focus on climate change, sustainability of the oceans, plastic in the ocean and this vessel will come to the Philippines,” he said.
The Philippines has been providing manpower for Norwegian maritime companies over the decades and industry leaders seek to “present solutions to some of the most pressing issues” that affect the industry,” the Norwegian Embassy in the Philippines said in a statement.