Public consultation paves way for 1st ocean-power plant in North Samar

PUBLIC consultation on the region’s first ocean-power project to be located in Capul Island, Northern Samar, was held last month.

With this, project proponent San Bernardino Ocean Power Corp. (SBOPC) said the San Bernardino Strait inches closer to becoming the launch pad for the Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region’s first commercial ocean-power plant.

The power project involves an initial 1.5-megawatt (MW) power plant, with the potential to increase its capacity to 3 MW. It will harness the marine-current resource in San Bernardino Strait, which separates the islands of Luzon and Samar. Northern
Samar Electric Cooperative  will be the off-taker of the 1.5-MW plant.

San Bernardino Strait’s tidal currents have a 500-MW potential. Tidal currents are predictable, and produce massive kinetic energy to run marine turbines.

The tidal farm is scalable to electrify Calintaan and Matnog in Sorsogon that have a demand of up to 20 MW for the next three years.

The project is envisioned to benefit the nearby municipalities of San Antonio and the major towns of the provinces of Sorsogon and Northern Samar within SBOPC’s concession areas.

The SBOPC is a joint venture of Sabella Société par Actions Simplifiée (Sabella) of France and H&WB Asia Pacific (Pte. Ltd.) Corp. It secured three ocean-power service contracts from the Department of Energy in 2013.

Sabella will deploy a resilient marine turbine that will utilize tidal in-stream energy conversion (Tisec) technology, an ocean-power technology mostly adaptable in Philippines waters.

“Tisec could be the technology of choice in ocean renewable-energy development in the Philippines,” said Antonio A. Ver, president of H&WB.

At present, electricity supply in the island of Capul is under the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) of the National Power Corp. (Napocor).

The remote island solely relies on obsolete, costly, and polluting diesel generators for electricity.

The Napocor currently supplies 60 percent of Capul’s electricity at not more than eight hours a day.

 Napocor’s diesel generators will be operated in tandem with the tidal turbines under a hybrid scheme until the island is weaned from the SPUG.

Once operational, the ocean-power plant will become a qualified third-party provider, which will handle both electricity generation and distribution to sustainably energize the entire island, 24/7.

The proposed project is in support of Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi’s vision to prioritize the electrification of unserved areas and raise the country’s renewable-energy mix.