‘Liberalized renewable energy sector to entice hyperscalers’


A liberalized renewable energy ecosystem is key to attracting hyperscalers—entities providing cloud, networking and internet services—to set up operations in the country, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo said in a recent event that the DTI backs the measure allowing full foreign equity ownership for renewable energy projects.

“That is very critical when you talk about hyperscaler data centers. We’re not trying to attract the ordinary data centers that have huge carbon footprint,” he said.

“Some of those that we’ll talk to would really want to put up renewable energy but own this 100 percent.”

In September, the DTI reported that at least two hyperscalers from the United States and China are expected to open their shops in the Philippines within the year. Rodolfo said they were in talks with several firms, Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud and Alibaba Cloud, at the time.

Apart from the green energy market, the trade official said potential investors are also studying the regulatory environment on data protection of the country.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, meanwhile, said hyperscalers support digital-native industries, including financial technology and digital banking. Both have seen increased usage since last year amid mobility restrictions.

The trade chief said hyperscalers’ investments on tools and intellectual property will make cloud technology more affordable, benefiting the customers as a result.

Hyperscaler data centers are also seen to help boost the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), which Lopez identified as one of the country’s digital economy growth drivers.

The trade department launched in May the AI roadmap, which aims to increase adoption and utilization of AI in various sectors in the country to advance industrial development. These include agriculture, automotive sector, smart manufacture, healthcare services and business process outsourcing.

Meanwhile, Rodolfo also raised the need to pass the bill amending the Public Services Act (PSA), noting that Elon Musk’s Starlink is taking its cue from its enactment.

“One investor that is very keen to go to the Philippines is Starlink,” he said. “They are just really waiting for the passage of Public Services Act, with the accompanying liberalization on equity ownership for telco.”

Last October, it was reported that two Philippine telco firms were in talks with Starlink for an ultrafast satellite Internet project.

“That topmost priority for us to be able to have rebound for us next year would be to pass the amendments to the Public Services Act. We really have to put pressure in terms of the discussions that are currently ongoing at the Senate.”

The proposed measure limits the industries considered as public utilities—or those sectors that, if destroyed, will adversely impact national security. As a result, the industries outside of the scope will not be subject to the 40-percent foreign equity restriction, like public utilities are, thereby liberalizing the said sectors.

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