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MANILA: The use of LNG imports for power generation in the Philippines next year should not be a disincentive for investors in renewables, the country’s energy chief said on Sunday.

The Southeast Asian country, which relies mostly on oil and coal imports for its energy needs, expects the transition to low-carbon fuels to gain momentum after its Department of Justice recently declared that renewables investments are exempt from the country’s 40% limit on foreign ownership in the energy sector among others.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said in an interview with Reuters that there is increasing interest in renewables now that key hurdle has been cleared, with several foreign investors with stakes in local projects looking at increasing their holdings.

At least three LNG import terminals are expected to begin commercial operations in 2023, but Lotilla said the Philippines will not be overly dependent on one or two energy resources.

“The entry of imported natural gas should not be seen as pulling the rug from under renewable energy,” he said, adding that LNG would be an essential back-up fuel to support a growing economy.

The government, which is targeting annual economic growth of 6.5% to 8% between 2023 and 2028, has stopped accepting new proposals for coal-based power projects to support investment in renewables and natural gas.

It aims to increase the share of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal in the energy mix to 35% by 2030 and to 50% by 2040, up from a little more than 20% last year.

Lotilla also expressed support for nuclear power, though he said the plan requires legislation on the legal and regulatory framework.

“We won’t ban any particular technologies. We need to diversify our energy resources,” he said. “There is room for more sources of energy.”

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