Mindanao needs to increase its power supply to keep up with the possible influx of investments in the island-region, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chairman Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol said.

During his assumption of office last August 19, Piñol said that sustainable power facilities especially renewable energy (RE) will be necessary to complement the fast-paced development initiatives that are expected to enter the region in the coming years.

“The big dream to develop Mindanao and encourage more investments will never come true if we don’t have the needed infrastructure,” he added.

This is despite the supply surplus in the island-region which runs at around 1,037 MW as of this month. Annual demand growth in Mindanao is forecasted at around 100 - 150MW which could mean that demand could outstrip supply in four to five years’ time without newer capacities coming in.

MinDA, through its Mindanao Power Development Program, has been facilitating the entry of RE capacities in the island-region through interventions with various key stakeholders. Last month, MinDA officially became part of the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC), an inter-agency body led by the Department of Energy which mandated to facilitate power project applications.

Earlier this year, a memorandum of understanding between MinDA and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) was signed to provide potential RE players with better access to financing opportunities to expedite their projects in Mindanao.

Piñol said that an Israeli group is willing to provide funding for the establishment of Solar-Powered Irrigation Projects-cum-Rural Water Supply Systems in the remote villages of Mindanao.

MinDA has also been working with development organizations such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in putting up solar hybrid capacities in the province of Tawi-Tawi through the Renewable Energy for Value Added of Seaweeds in Tawi-Tawi or RETS. The project is a part of the proposals RE development in Mindanao with funding from the European Union.

Piñol added that the lack of long-term power supply in Mindanao might affect potential investments in the region which includes the emerging export of green and mature coconuts from provinces like Lanao Del Sur to bigger global markets such as China and the United States.

“China is currently sourcing mature coconuts from Thailand and Vietnam and I believe we have the capacity to tap into that market given that agriculture is one of our primary strengths,” he said.

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