First Gen building pumped-storage to boost capacity
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - August 3, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lopez-led First Gen Corp. is aggressively pursuing its decarbonization efforts with the construction of the country’s first pumped-storage facility capable of providing an additional 100 megawatts (MW) in capacity and storing excess power.

First Gen director and executive vice president Richard Tantoco said the company, through First Gen Hydro Power Corp., has completed the preliminary assessment and feasibility study phase for the 100-MW Aya pumped- storage project in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija.

“The preliminary assessment and feasibility studies have been completed, the project is now securing all of the national permits for it. Local permits have been granted. In fact as we speak, access roads are being built,” he said.

In December 2019, FG Hydro was granted by the Department of Energy (DOE) a hydropower service contract (HSC) for the exclusive development of the project.

A pumped-storage facility stores and generates electricity by moving a volume of water between two reservoirs situated at different elevations (upper and lower reservoirs).

Specifically, the Aya project will be utilizing the Pantabangan and Masiway Reservoirs as its upper and lower reservoirs.

First Gen president and COO Giles Puno said the project would help address the issue of variability of most other renewable sources.

This, as the company cannot wait until battery storage technology can address the variability of renewable energy.

“Part of the hydro platform’s expansion involves the development of the 100-MW Aya pumped-storage facility capable of providing energy during peak periods and storing energy during off-peak periods. This is part of First Gen’s transition plan,” Puno said.

The Lopez firm said the facility would provide energy during peak periods and ancillary services to the electricity grid for grid security and stability.

Ancillary services are necessary to support the transmission capacity, maintaining reliable operation of the transmission system and electricity supply in the grid.

Apart from addressing sudden spikes in demand, the Aya project can also store up to eight hours of equivalent energy.

Aside from energy, pumped-storage facilities can be flexibly operated to provide ancillary services to electricity grid for security and stability.

Once completed, the new project will allow First Gen to store water pumped into a reservoir for use at a later time.

“Given the seasonal nature of hydro’s fuel resource, First Gen intends to adopt a more dynamic maintenance strategy to maximize the hydro resource,” it said.

In a virtual stockholders’ meeting last week, First Gen chairman and CEO Federico Lopez said the Lopez Group has committed to move to a decarbonized and regenerative future.

“This year we crystallized our mission at First Philippine Holdings and our group of companies and that is to forge collaborative pathways for a decarbonized and regenerative future. It’s a deliberately high bar and we’re nothing short of humbled by it. But we expect this short phrase to be the beacon that guides us through this turbulent decade and beyond,” he said.

First Gen is the largest company in the country that provides only clean and renewable power. In 2016, it declared that it would not develop, finance, or operate any coal fired power plants.

Aside from hydro, First Gen power plants run on natural gas, geothermal, wind and solar. These plants have a combined capacity of 3,492 MW at the end of 2019.

FIRST GEN CORP.
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