More power firms studying energy storage systems

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — More power industry players are embarking on energy storage systems (ESS) developments to manage variable renewable energy supply and to provide ancillary service (AS) to maintain a stable power grid.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s largest power distribution utility (DU), has built its first battery energy storage system (BESS) in partnership with Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. as part of its smart grid journey.

Meralco and Hitachi inaugurated the pilot BESS in San Rafael, Bulacan, which can deliver two megawatts (MW) in capacity.

“We’re grateful to Hitachi for providing us two MW of battery storage energy system,” Meralco president and CEO Ray Espinosa said. “These are modular, movable. They’re in 40-foot containers.”

The project would help the company understand and integrate the technology within its distribution system.

“From a DU perspective, we want to understand how battery energy storage really works and how it will help the network,” Espinosa said.

In 2015, Meralco chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan acknowledged the dawn of battery storage will disrupt the company’s distribution business, thus the need to eventually enter the energy storage space especially when prices of the technology go down.

With the new ESS project, Meralco will also be able to address the variability of renewable energy supply within its system.

“That would acquaint our network engineers on how we can use this energy storage system as a way of stabilizing renewables,” Espinosa said.

“As you know, renewables are not that stable in a sense that they can fluctuate within the day, especially solar, so the storage system is very important to provide that stability,” he said.

This is the same reason why the power unit of the Ayala Group is also actively exploring the development of ESS.

“If we are to scale up renewables in the country, renewables cannot be scaled up without complementary technology be it battery or storage as well as gas which is more complementary than coal because of its flexibility,” AC Energy Inc. president and CEO Eric Francia said.

The Ayala firm is studying a broad array of energy storage technology. There are various kinds of ESS, such as battery, compressed air energy storage, flywheel energy storage and pumped-storage hydropower.

“We are actively exploring storage. We’re going to do a pilot project. We haven’t done the construction yet, but that’s something we’re looking into,” Francia said.

Meanwhile, the Aboitiz Group is also planning several ESS projects to serve the ancillary needs of the power grid.

“We have a number of projects that we are looking, battery energy storage technology primarily for ancillary services (AS),” Aboitiz Power Corp. COO Emmanuel Rubio said.

AS is necessary to support the transmission of capacity and energy from resources to loads while maintaining reliable operation of the transmission system in accordance with good utility practice and the grid code.

The AboitizPower official said the company has (a list of ESS projects) in the pipeline and is working closely with the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) for these projects.

“We’ve submitted (a list of projects) for SIS (system impact study) applications to NGCP,” Rubio said.

Last year, SN Aboitiz Power Group (SNAP) – the joint venture of SN Power of Norway and AboitizPower – announced plans to construct a $28-million BESS facility in its Magat Hydro Electric Power Plant (HEPP).

The said facility will be used to boost the company’s ancillary services (AS) and standby power supply that can be tapped in case the regular supply falls short of the requirement.

The Energy Regulatory Commission had classified BESS as a new source of frequency control ancillary services.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently issued a framework to promote and regulate the development of ESS in the country.

The agency said the applications and the benefits of ESS as an emerging technology is recognized in the improvement of the electric power system to ensure the quality, reliability, security and affordability of the supply of electric power.

The framework also aims to address concerns from existing and prospective ESS proponents over the lack of governing policy framework for the regulation and operation of the technology.

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