First Gen targeting off-grids as expanded gas-to-power market

By Myrna M. Velasco – June 14, 2019, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

Beyond the massive scale on-grid power projects it is advancing from blueprints, First Gen Corporation of the Lopez group indicated that it will also be targeting the island-grids as expanded market for gas-fired power generation.

First Gen President and Chief Operating Officer Francis Giles B. Puno

First Gen President and Chief Operating Officer Francis Giles B. Puno

First Gen President and Chief Operating Officer Francis Giles B. Puno indicated they are not just looking at the existing 3,200-megawatt gas capacity of the country, but part of the plan are prospective market expansions, including the off-grid opportunities.

He said the “technology is already available” to bring gas as an alternative to off-grid domains and this could also be a perfect fit solution to the archipelagic state of the country.

Puno thus qualified that these market potentials, including other non-power users such as industries, had been part of the planning milieu they factored in for the company’s proposed 5.0 to 7.0 million tons per annum (mtpa) of onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal.

“The first step is building the terminal so we can make sure even our assets can have a life beyond Malampaya. And then other developers can have other option for gas-fired power resource,” which the First Gen executive specified will include the off-grid areas.

Modular gas technology deployment in off-grid domains is among the policies being advocated by the Department of Energy (DOE), not only for it to ensure cleaner energy solutions in these jurisdictions but also to bring down the cost of electricity for consumers in these areas which traditionally relied on more expensive oil-fired power facilities.

In the gas tech genre, it was noted that mobile solutions are now of commercial scale rollout – chiefly in power markets or countries emblazoned with ravishing islands like the Philippines and Indonesia.

Often, these mobile gas technology solutions are standardized, pre-tested modules that are easy to transport and install; and connection to the grid could also be done as fast as six months. Additionally, they could be operated with flexibility and high degree of reliability.

Puno opined it will just require an investment step of engaging the right partner so these island-grids could eventually be served with gas-generated electricity supply.

On a longer-term trajectory, First Gen is similarly looking at a gas pipeline installation as a way forward to widen the base of gas market in the Philippines; and that has also gotten the nod of its partner Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. which first studied prospects on the Batangas-Manila gas pipeline project roughly two decades ago.

“Eventually, the pipeline will be a natural extension of the business, first thing really is getting the terminal in there. Once we have the import capacity, we can use that gas for many things aside from just power, you can use it for transport and other industries,” Puno stressed.