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‘Philippines may experience power supply crunch next year’

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star
âPhilippines may experience power supply crunch next yearâ
Power demand is expected to increase next year as the economy starts to recover and restrictions become looser, Quezon Power (Philippines) Ltd. Co. managing director Frank Thiel said during the Asian Power Thermal Energy Conference yesterday.
Walter Bollozos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines, particularly Luzon, will likely experience a power supply crunch during the summer months next year amid increasing demand, with only one new generating plant entering the power grid and several power plants badly needing maintenance shutdowns delayed by the pandemic, a power executive said.

Power demand is expected to increase next year as the economy starts to recover and restrictions become looser, Quezon Power (Philippines) Ltd. Co. (QPPL) managing director Frank Thiel said during the Asian Power Thermal Energy Conference yesterday.

“Demand is expected to increase next year. Pre-pandemic, we had a certain demand. During the pandemic, the demand dropped, and I think a lot of projects were put on hold because of that situation. In Luzon, the economy started taking off again. Demand has increased and is back to pre-pandemic levels. Next year is going to be very tough,” he said.

In the latest report of London-based think tank the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) titled “Industries in 2022,” global energy consumption is projected to rise by 2.2 percent next year as economies recover from the impact of the pandemic.

The think tank said all types of energy, apart from nuclear power, would benefit from the projected rise in demand.

“Coal consumption will rise by 1.5 percent, year on year, almost as fast as natural-gas consumption (which will be subdued by supply problems in the first half of the year). Oil consumption, which was the area of the economy worst hit by 2020’s economic crunch, will rise by 2.7 percent. Solar and wind power will soar by 10.6 percent,” EIU said.

But for the Philippines, the rising demand would be served only by one new power plant coming on stream next year, Thiel said.

“I think it’s going to be a very difficult summer. I think only one new power station has come into the energy mix in Luzon, up north – a 660 megawatts (MW) super critical coal power plant. Aside from that, there are no new power stations coming into the market,” he said.

Thiel was referring to the second unit of GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. (GNPD) in Bataan, whose second 668-MW coal-fired power plant is targeted to start operating in the first quarter of 2022.

Another concern for the power sector is that not enough maintenance works were implemented for several power plants during the pandemic due to travel restrictions.

“One worry that I have is we haven’t been able to do a lot of maintenance in our plants over the last couple of years because through the pandemic restrictions, we were not able to bring technical advisors. We rely on technical advisors to come in and help us for maintenance during the planned outages of the units,” Thiel said.

With the upcoming elections, power generators will have to squeeze in all maintenance works before or after the critical national and local election day.

“But the summer is going to be very challenging. We also have elections at that time. We’ve been given a directive by the government that we cannot take any shutdowns two months before and two months after the election period which presents a bit of a challenge as well,” Thiel said.

For QPPL, the company will be conducting a 45-day scheduled maintenance outage for its 460-MW coal fired power plant next year.

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