Biomass plants to augment summer supply

by Myrna Velasco, December 28, 2014
from Manila Bulletin

Next year’s  summer months will likely get power supply boost from the anticipated commercial operations of biomass power facilities – renewable energy sources that are considered more stable when it comes to their rate of electricity generation compared to their ‘intermittent technology-cousins’.

Department of Energy Director Mario C. Marasigan has noted that there are biomass plants coming on stream prior to the anticipated hike in demand during the hot weather months of March to June.

“RE will definitely be part of the solution to supply shortages. We have been pushing for increase in solar capacity to help address that, and there are also biomass plants already on commissioning process,” he stressed.

Marasigan indicated that two biomass plants in the Visayas will likely add to the interlinked grids’ capacity next year. Another facility set for commercial operation is sited in Luzon.

One of those being counted upon for additional capacity contribution to the grid will be the 46-megawatt biomass co-generation facility of the Gokongwei group in Negros Occidental. Based on its submission to the energy department, this is due for commercial commissioning late this year.

The other one will be a 12-MW biomass facility in San Jose City in Nueva Ecija, which the energy official indicated had already been on commissioning this fourth quarter.

The year 2015 will be a banner year for the massive entry of RE capacities to the grid because this is the period that has also been set as the cut-off timeframe for the grant of the initial feed-in-tariff (FIT) incentives.

The projects reaching commercial commissioning beyond 2015 may still apply for FIT, but their rates may already be subjected to the prescribed degression rates (or incentive reduction) under the RE Rules.

The approved FIT for biomass developments had been set at P6.63 per kilowatt hour. And while the DOE warranted a capacity installation of 200MW for this technology type, it remained “undersubscribed” until this time.

The major concern for biomass developers is on securing sustainable feedstock for their chosen technology application. For those using bagasse or sugar cane-based feedstock, they also have to hurdle competition with other uses of the resource.

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