DOE seeks Japan help to power islands

By Myrna M. Velasco – September 13, 2019, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

The Department of Energy is seeking collaboration with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan for the deployment of distributed energy systems (DES) for island-provinces in the Philippines.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi (doe.media@doe.gov.ph)

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi (doe.media@doe.gov.ph)

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi noted this has been key part of the discussion he had with METI during bilateral talks with Japan’s State Minister Yoshihiko Isozaki on the sidelines of the recently concluded ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) in Thailand.

The Philippine energy chief indicated the DOE’s interest “to be part of METI’s program to evaluate the potential of island-provinces and economic zones for DES power generation and electrification projects.”

DES is also called “decentralized generation’ or the micro-grids currently being promoted to hasten the electrification of off-grids and remote areas in the country.

Key advantage of DES or distributed generation system is that it can function independently and could save consumers from the torment of blackouts, especially in the wallop of natural disasters; and this has been proven as a “disaster resiliency solution” for a city in Puerto Rico that had its own combined heat and power (CHP) decentralized system, primarily when the Caribbean islands had been thumped by powerful cyclones in 2017.

As further explained, decentralized energy or distributed generation is electricity produced closest to where it is going to be used – hence, it is also often referred to as on-site electricity generation – that is compared to securing power from a large plant of which capacity is wheeled through the national grid.

Within this year, the DOE has also engaged METI for an extended agreement in crafting the power development blueprint of island-grid Mindoro province, which is famed as the locality where Cusi came from.

Essentially, the deal being eyed by the DOE with METI is an extension of what the two governments already cemented as a technical cooperation agreement (TCA) since June 2018. The extension agreement is targeted for signing this year.

As propounded, METI in collaboration with KPMG AZSA LLC, shall be providing technical assistance “for the formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Power System Development and Operational Plan for Mindoro,” with the end-goal of achieving total electrification for all households in the island.

The focal point of the review as to the island-province’s energy blueprint shall include assessment of “the feasibility of introducing a micro-grid system as a source of stable power.”

No specific technology-coupling yet that the energy department had identified for this off-grid domain, albeit in the DOE chief’s vision, he wants the planned off-grid system in Mindoro to serve as a template for all other installations in various parts of the country.

A micro-grid takes the form of a stand-alone power system that could provide the electricity needs of an area round the clock. The installation could be a combination of traditional technology like diesel or bunker-C fuel; integrated with renewable energy sources like wind and solar along with battery storage.

Mindoro is touted as the seventh largest island in the Philippines with a population of more than 2.0 million and with brisk potential for economic expansion — but such had been hobbled by the distressing power service interruptions it had been suffering from over the years.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself had tasked his energy officials to achieve total household electrification by the end of his term in 2022. As of mid-2019, however, the government still struggles providing energy access to more than 2.7 million households nationwide.