EDC sets 60-MW capacity ramp-up on 2 steam plants

By Myrna M. Velasco – October 5, 2019, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

Lopez-majority owned Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is targeting 50 to 60 megawatts ramp-up on two of its power plants by re-using steam heat so it can produce more electricity primarily from its Bacon-Manito (BacMan) and Mahanagdong generating assets.

EDC President Richard B. Tantoco

In an interview, EDC President Richard B. Tantoco indicated that the capacity improvement will likely be realized in the next two years – or around year 2022, factoring in the gestation period of construction.

The company, he said, is currently on a process of negotiating for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with three prospective bidders.

He said the Bacon-Manito plant in Sorsogon province as well as the Mahanagdong facility in Leyte could still yield more megawatt-capacity with “optimization process” through waste heat recovery.

“We’ll just have small expansion within our existing sites… it’s basically waste heat recovery, we’re trying to utilize it a lot better. We will use it one last time before sending it back to the reservoir,” Tantoco explained.

Waste heat recovery entails the use of surplus heat from a turbine, which in turn could improve the overall generation efficiency of a power plant.

For the targeted 60MW aggregate capacity ramp up, Tantoco emphasized that project cost has not been firmed up yet because a great part of that will depend on the EPC contract that will eventually be cornered for the project.

And while the technology deployment for that capacity optimization plan is pretty conventional, Tantoco emphasized that for the next round of investments in the geothermal sector – including for low enthalpy prospects, project sponsors will really need to contend with the challenges of innovation and ways of doing new things in the energy sector.

“I think the call to the industry is really to innovate – to learn how to do old things and tackle old problems in a very new way,” he stressed. For innovative technologies that the company has been intending to tap for its geothermal assets in the Philippines – fracking or hydraulic fracturing could be one of the prospects. And for that, the EDC executive asserted that talks with targeted suppliers are ongoing.

“It’s more on improving permeability, so you put acids which is common. So we’re just testing many, many things. We’re trying it probably in Leyte and Negros,” Tantoco said, referring to its geothermal facilities on those sites.

The more pressing concern for the industry moving forward, he opined, “will be bringing the industry to a lower cost curve over time,” with him emphasizing that “it will take time, but we need to band together.”