Reserve, incoming projects ease PHL power worries

In Photo: The Department of Energy is banking on sources of energy, like this solar power plant that sits on a rice field in San Rafael, Bulacan, as the summer months arrive in the Philippines. It is during this period that demand for power increases.

Part One

POWER-industry stakeholders are expecting a brownout-free summer in Luzon for as long as no major power plants conk out simultaneously.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the optimistic outlook is borne out of adequate power supply in the grid amid an expected spike on power consumption brought about by intense heat during summer months.

“We should be okay,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said.

Based on a weekly demand, supply and reserve profile, the forecast for Luzon’s power reserve for the 13 weeks of summer beginning March 25 would hit below 3,000 megawatts (MW) on the week of May 13 to 19 at 1,869 MW. The peak power reserve is forecast on the last week of March at 2,990 MW.

On the average, there would be roughly 2,233 megawatts (MW) in power reserve in 13 weeks, the data revealed.

Enough reserve

ENERGY Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said there is enough gross power reserve in Luzon during the summer months, even as there will be days in May when power supply is low.

“For the Luzon grid, the NGCP [National Grid Corp. of the Philippines] said the April 22 to 28 week up to the week of June 3 to  9 supply is low,” Fuentebella said. “However, this will not trigger a yellow alert; [not] critical, unless may masira na planta [a power plant breaks down] or [we experience] line-tripping incidents.”

A yellow alert is issued by the NGCP when contingency reserve is less than the capacity of the largest synchronized unit of the grid. In Luzon this is equivalent to 647 MW, or one unit of the Sual power plant.

Based on the NGCP demand, supply and weekly reserve profile for January to June 2017, the low power supply in Luzon could occur starting April up to early June this year. Based on data, two weeks in May have the lowest reserve levels, specifically May  13 to 19 and May 20 to May 26,  where gross reserves were placed at 1,859 MW and 1,872 MW, respectively.

No worries

AVAILABLE capacity is expected to reach 11,589 MW for May 13 to 19 and 11,492 MW for May 20 to 26, compared to demand of 9,730 MW and 9,620 MW, respectively.

Visayas is expected to register low power supply in the week of June 3 to 9. However, Fuentebella is not worried because the Luzon and Visayas grids are interconnected.

“But the Visayas is interconnected with the Luzon grid so it can import power from Luzon when needed,” the DOE official said.

On the other hand, there is excess power supply in Mindanao.

“With so much supply, there is a need to increase the demand or the load,” Fuentebella said. “This is a signal for economic zones and big business to go there.”

According to University of the Philippines (UP) Electronics Engineering Prof. Rowaldo del Mundo, the country’s power situation is “much better than when the Malampaya gas facility went on shutdown”.

“The important thing is everybody now is conscious about the possible consequences if our power-system situation worsens,” of the UP Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute’s del Mundo said. “Offhand, in general, we’re in a much better situation for the summer period.”

However, Fuentebella said the NGCP data has yet to be updated.

According to him, the NGCP is still waiting for an official declaration of the summer period from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

“We are still waiting for the latest data from NGCP,” Fuentebella said. “This is forthcoming.”

He explained that the available data the DOE currently has from the NGCP was submitted in September last year.

Committed projects

SEPARATELY, a DOE data states that several power projects in Luzon, with a total capacity of 1,444 MW, are targeted either for commercial operation and commissioning this year.

Of the total committed capacity for the year in Luzon, 720 MW of capacity will be sourced from coal, 650 MW from gas, 29.515 MW from solar, 12 MW from geothermal, 22.9 MW from biomass and 10 MW from battery storage.

The coal-power projects are being developed by SMC Consolidated Power Corp. in Limay, Bataan (300 MW) and Pagbilao Energy Corp. in Quezon (420 MW).

Energy World Corp. is targeting the commissioning of its 650-MW gas project in Pagbilao, Quezon, in June for Unit 1, September for Unit 2 and December for Unit 3.

For solar, the committed power projects with target commercial operation for the year are the 18 MW of Next Generation Power Technology Corp. in Mariveles, Bataan; 1.675 MW of CW Marketing & Development Corp. in Santa Rosa, Laguna; 3.82 MW of SPARC Solar Powered Agri-Rural Communities Corp. in San Rafael, Bulacan; and 5.02 MW  of SPARC in Morong, Bataan.

A 1-MW solar project of Bosung Solartec Inc. in Ilocos Norte is targeted for commissioning this year. A 12-MW geothermal plant in Batangas by Maibarara Geothermal Inc. is scheduled for commercial operations in August this year.

The biomass projects lined up for target testing and commissioning this year are the 1.5MW of Asian Carbon Neutral Power Corp. in Tarlac; 4.5 MW of Bicol Biomass Energy Corp. in Camarines Sur; 6.1 MW of AseaGas Corp. in Batangas; and the 10.8 MW of San Jose City I Power Corp. in Nueva Ecija.

The battery storage of AES Philippines Power Partners Co. in Zambales will be operational in December this year.

These power projects are on top of the new ones that recently started delivering power to the grid. These include the 414-MW San Gabriel and the 87-MW Avion gas plants of the Lopez Group.


Image credits: Nonie Reyes


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