Blinken leads awarding of offshore wind study grant to PH clean energy firm

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2022 06:29 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2022 09:49 AM

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken  AFP/Pool
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (center) visits clean energy fair at Ayala Triangle Gardens in Manila on August 6, 2022. Andrew Harnik, AFP/Pool

MANILA (UPDATE) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday raised the need for cooperation between countries to address the world’s climate crisis at a clean energy expo in Makati City, the last public visit in the top diplomat’s trip here.

Blinken witnessed the signing of an agreement between the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and Aboitiz Renewables Inc. awarding a grant to the local firm.

Under the grant, Aboitiz will conduct a feasibility study to develop offshore wind projects in Philippine waters that could generate up to 3 gigawatts of power.

“These efforts are more important than ever, because every region in the world is experiencing the dangerous effects of the climate crisis. The Philippines is especially vulnerable,” Blinken said. 

“This is a threat by definition that no one country, no one government can solve alone. We have to tackle it together. And investing in clean energy is one very powerful way to do that.”

The Philippines is considered one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change.

Clean energy has been among the highlights of the US-Philippines relationship in recent years, with a dozen American private firms intending to invest in the Philippines.

Blinken said the US is committed to helping the Philippines achieve its clean energy goals to produce 35 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and half by 2040.

He added the development of the offshore wind project could produce up to 3000 megawatts yearly that could power more than 2 million homes.

"Some of the projects I saw are in effect here in the Philippines which I think will answer questions and challenges not just in the Philippines but in the world and that's Filipino innovation," Blinken told ANC's Headstart.

"We’re very proud we've been able to partner through the US government in supporting some of these projects. I think nuclear is a big part of the answer to future energy needs and to dealing with climate change."

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Aboitiz, one of the Philippines’ largest power generation companies, said the study to be done with a Colorado-based company would last a year and a half.

It would help them identify sites to set up offshore wind farms.

USTDA director Enoh Ebong, who signed the agreement with Aboitiz VP David Aboitiz, said the agency is “well-suited” to meet the demands for renewable energy development in the country.

The USTDA has completed 33 energy activities for the Philippines funding projects such as smart grids and energy storage systems, according to the US State Department.

Aboitiz and 6 Philippine renewable energy companies, many supported by USAID, put up exhibits at the event.

The small- and medium-sized firms specialize in various clean energy solutions such as biomass, hydropower, solar, and wind.

In an interview with ANC's Headstart on Monday, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said modular nuclear power plants were "very small in nature" and can take "about 5, maybe even 3 years" to install.

"It’s much safer by the way, I'm told it’s really going to be the way of the future as far as clean energy is concerned," he said.

Blinken arrived in Manila following his visit to the US-ASEAN Ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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Before coming to the fair, the US top diplomat met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacañang, engaged in a virtual conference with his Philippine counterpart foreign affairs Sec. Enrique Manalo, visited a COVID-19 vaccination clinic and a meeting with civil society groups in the capital.

He is next due to visit South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.