Massive solar incursion may compromise Visayas grid

by Myrna Velasco – January 12, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

By mid-March, about 300 megawatts of solar power capacity in Negros Oriental will be on stream, but wheeling of their generated capacity is a dilemma hobbling industry players as this could compromise the power grid of Visayas and may cause troubles such as power interruptions.

Erramon I. Aboitiz, Chief Executive Officer of Aboitiz Power Corporation, has sounded off in an interview with reporters that this is a problem that key stakeholders have been discussing for some time already, but no final solution has been fleshed out so far.

The sudden drop of solar generation at weather swings and cloud overcast is another concern, because this could trigger unwarranted system frequency excursion that could trigger blackouts.

“This is a concern we have, this is part of the coordination… too much of a good thing ends up to be a bad thing. That’s what’s happening in Negros today,” Aboitiz has stressed.

He emphasized that “the concern has been brought about but exactly what the solution is… I don’t know.”

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has long warned of not-too-aggressive renewable energy developments because the so-called intermittent sources could harm power grid’s reliability.

The concentration of solar capacity in that part of the Visayas will also have implications on supply balance – because at the time that the sun is shining, Negros could have overcapacity, but if the opposite happens, it could suffer from supply scarcity.

Additionally, hurdles of capacity transmission will prevent the solar generators from wheeling their capacity to other parts of Visayas.

“I believe it’s about 300MW of solar capacity when the demand of the whole of Negros is just at 200MW. When all the generation is there, where will the power go? We have constraints to remit power to Cebu and other parts of the Visayas,” Aboitiz has expounded.

He further stressed “and when it starts raining, all of a sudden, the production will go down. So how will Negros get the power it needs?”

The race set forth by the Department of Energy (DOE) on the award of fresh round of feed-in-tariff (FIT) incentives will expectedly ignite solar capacity explosion at the prescribed cut-off period within this quarter.