GE scouting for pumped storage hydro investment

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

Multinational industrial giant GE is exploring investment opportunities for pumped storage power stations (PSP) where it can align itself as equipment supplier in such facilities’ construction and development.

GE

“We’re trying to look at pumped storage (for hydro)…we look for opportunities, depending on the potential,” GE Philippines Chief Executive Officer Jose Victor Emmanuel de Dios said.

There are array of prospective developments the company has been keeping a close eye on – including the Alimit project of the Aboitiz group; the proposed expansion of the San Roque hydropower facility as well as the targeted rehabilitation of the Agus hydropower complex in Mindanao.

On the Agus facility, De Dios noted that they have visited the site “to see what’s needed, but we’re waiting on the government’s move.”

The American firm executive intimated that the supply of equipment to pumped storage-anchored hydropower facilities would be ideal for them as GE has more than 48 gigawatts of such on its portfolio – giving the company the largest base of PSPs that are in operations and under construction worldwide.

With pumped storage, hydro facilities would be able to store water when elevation are high and use that for electricity generation even when the reservoir suffers from low elevation or when power demand goes up in an electricity system.

In essence, that will beat the odds of cyclical generation that is typically associated with hydropower assets – which is often a dilemma especially if there is El Nino phenomenon or in the events of dry spell.

Other than hydro, GE is also continuously searching for investment opportunities in the renewable energy sector – primarily wind developments, not just in the Philippines but the rest of Southeast Asian countries and up to Australia.

“There’s not much that we’ve been hearing now in the Philippines on wind, but there’s a lot in Thailand and Vietnam,” de Dios said; and the company is also aggressively pursuing opportunities in Australia.

The American energy giant is offering suite of solutions to the Philippine energy sector – either to shore up its need for capacity addition, address the intermittency of RE generation and its integration into the system; or hybrid systems that could truly advance cleaner option on the country’s overall energy mix.

One key technology offer of the American company is onshore wind turbines that had been scaled up to 4.8 megawatts (and now at 5.0 megawatts) from previous market rollout of 2.5MW; and its “reservoir solution” which is a flexible and modular energy storage that could complement RE’s episodic generation.

“GE’s wind turbines are uniquely suited to meet the needs of customers globally,” the company said, adding that digital wind farms “make turbines smarter and more connected than ever before.”

On its “GE Reservoir Solution” energy storage, the company said this can help the power grid in balance, hence, this is being dangled as matching solution to RE’s intermittent generation.

The American firm is similarly dangling to the Philippines and across Asian markets its Jenbacher gas engines for biogas-underpinned electricity generation.

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