Gov’t hints investing for reserve power capacity

by Myrna Velasco – September 11, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

With the series of tight supply problems in Luzon grid, the Department of Energy (DOE) is looking at prospects of re-positioning the government for investments on plants that shall provide for reserve capacity in the power system.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi repeatedly told media that “we are concentrating efforts on addressing issues on the reserve capacity.”

So far, the energy department thought out of putting up a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power facility to meet that.

The preliminary plan is to construct a 200-megawatt liquefied natural gas-fired power facility in Batangas that shall be spearheaded by the state-owned Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC), since the National Power Corporation (NPC) is already restrained by law to be involved in new major on-grid power projects.

The cautionary words advanced to the energy department, however, had been anchored on the fact that LNG projects of that scale may turn out to be too costly in consumers’ pockets. Studies undertaken by prospective private investors portend that even at 500MW capacity, LNG may still come pricey to the Filipino consumers, hence, the recommendation is to level up the scale when it comes to megawatt-installations.

Beyond LNG, the new energy chief is also setting his sights on to as far as reviving the country’s nuclear power ambition.

He has been resuscitating plans of re-powering the mothballed 620MW Bataan nuclear power plant, although mounting oppositions are already getting in the way.

Cusi’s goal is for the government to satiate the power system’s need for ample reserve capacity. This early though, experts are already noting that nuclear technology may not be ideal to meet that system need, instead, it is best aligned as a source of baseload power.

Reserve capacity would be best provided by technologies that could ramp up swiftly, and inauspiciously, nuclear is not on that sphere.