Meralco eyes shift to renewable energy

By Jordeene B. Lagare – September 24, 2019
from The Manila Times

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is pushing for a transition towards zero-carbon electricity with renewable energy (RE), its official said on Wednesday.

Meralco is embarking on an energy transition roadmap from high carbon (coal) to low carbon (natural gas) and subsequently zero carbon (RE), according to Meralco President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Espinosa.

“In our minds, we have set an agenda whereby as we contract stable sources of power, our minds are actually focused on basically moving ourselves from a high carbon to low carbon footprint and hopefully to a zero carbon electricity, which is tapping renewables,” Espinosa said during the press briefing of the Association of Electricity Supply Industry of East Asia and the Western Pacific (AESIEAP) CEO Conference here.

“Energy transition into renewables is inevitable given the twin perils of global warming and dwindling … fossil fuel supplies,” he said.

Rogelio Singson, president of Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen), Meralco’s power generation arm, noted that other countries across the globe are gearing towards a 10-year roadmap to move away from fossil fuels and into renewables.

However, Meralco’s transition plan does not necessarily mean that the country’s largest power distributor will immediately do away with coal-fired power plants.

“We cannot stop coal… you cannot just stop coal plants what will be the alternative to coal facilities?” Espinosa said. “Renewables alone are not capable of meeting the country’s power requirements,” he added.

Espinosa explained that coal facilities nowadays are equipped with carbon dioxide capture and storage technology, which can capture up to 90 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced from power plants that run on fossil fuels, preventing the CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Presuming that the power grid can support 100 percent of RE capacity, he said the grid itself has to be modified to make it possible. One also needs to strike a balance between fueling the economic growth and providing reliable electricity at affordable rates.

This feat, according to Espinosa, entails cooperation from all, from the private sector and even the government because the government should lay down the policies to make this happen. “We cannot make it work alone because there are other conditions that are dependent on government policies and actions,” he said.

More than 200 energy ministers, energy companies, chief executive officers, and other industry leaders gathered at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa to discuss challenges and solutions faced by the power industry in East Asia and the Western Pacific.

This was the first time that the Philippines hosted the conference in about 20 years, which also served as a venue for environmental sustainability and inclusive development advocacies in the sector.

The said event is the first portion of the biennial AESIEAP conferences. In 2020, the country will again host the AESIEAP Conference of Electric Power Supply Industry at the Manila Marriott Hotel from November 29 to December 3.