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Natural calamities call for resilient power infra

Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman) - December 31, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - While the power outlook for Visayas is positive in the short-term, natural calamities like typhoons threaten the stability of the power sector.

Saul Gonzales, chief at the Energy Industry Management Division of the Department of Energy-Visayas, said there is a rising need to invest into resilient power infrastructure, considering the frequent occurrence of natural calamities brought about by climate change.

"We need to be resilient [in power infrastructure]," Gonzales said in an interview.

Although power utilities can quickly fix damaged lines after a strong typhoon, the repair works can be costly, he said.

The energy official cited, for instance, the underground distribution system (UDS) of the Visayan Electric Company as one of the resilient infrastructure projects that other distribution companies should also invest.

While he claimed that investing into it entails expensive costs, he stressed it should be viewed as a long-term investment.

In a previous interview, VECO Chief Operating Officer Anton Perdices said his dream would have been to put underground power lines in whole Cebu City "but it's too expensive".

"We will continue to do as much as underground projects as possible," Perdices had said.

VECO has undertaken its UDS project from the Cebu Provincial Capitol to P. Del Rosario St. in Cebu City.

Investments

Furthermore, the DoE said Visayas consistently needs more power investments.

"We need more power investments with our constant progress and increasing population and demand," Gonzales said, encouraging investors that going into the power business is a profitable one, given that electricity is a basic human need.

Power plants planned to be put up in the future should have bigger capacities to ensure reliability, the DoE official pointed out.

He added that various power projects are coming in 2016, citing some ongoing projects in Cebu such as the Therma Visayas Inc.'s 340-MW thermal power plant in Toledo City and the 60-MW solar power plant of Sunasia Energy in the same city.

Citing an outlook report, Gonzales assured that power supply in Visayas will be stable until September 2017. He though sees a critical period from November 2017 and January 2018 unless additional capacities will be committed to fill in the gap during that time.

He said the DoE had approved some power projects but these have no financial closure yet.

By the second half of 2016, two units of coal-fired power plants in Iloilo City — each has 135 MW — are expected to go online. These plants of Palm Concepcion Power Corp. are expected to address the increasing power demand in the Visayas.

Power  generation

Official data from DoE showed that total generation in Visayas has reached a total of 995,974 Megawatt hour (MWh) while the total actual demand of the entire grid was 979,688 MWh.

The largest contribution still came from geothermal plants with 48.87% share while coal thermal plants accounted for 37.31%. Following geothermal and coal are oil-based sources (6.69%), hydro (0.19%), biomass (3.50%), and solar and wind (3.43%).

In terms of per island generation, the largest share came from Cebu with 35.19% of total generation, followed closely by Leyte with 35.09% share.

Cebu, according to Gonzales, needs more embedded power plants to prevent it from importing power from the neighboring island grids.

Cebu's available capacity, which is based on the capacity of its embedded plants in the island, was measured at 446 megawatts (MW) and the highest peak demand was 885 MW. Cebu fills in the supply gap by importing power from other island grids in the region.

In the Visayas, the highest peak demand recorded so far in 2015 was in November, which reached 1,766 MW. The highest recorded available capacity was 1,915 MW while the highest reserve was 295 MW.

As of yesterday morning, the Visayas grid had an excess supply of 658 MW out of an available supply of 1747 MW, based on the daily monitoring of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

 

CEBU CEBU CITY CEBU PROVINCIAL CAPITOL CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER ANTON PERDICES DEL ROSARIO ST. ENERGY INDUSTRY MANAGEMENT DIVISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY-VISAYAS GONZALES ILOILO CITY POWER QUOT VISAYAS
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