Meralco goes solar

by Riza T. Olchondra – 12:18 AM December 22nd, 2015

from Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE MERALCO group is venturing into solar power development to diversify its energy source mix.

Meralco’s new unit plans to establish up to 100 megawatts (MW) of sunlight-fueled capacity by 2019.

Meralco president and CEO Oscar Reyes said the new unit, MSpectrum, was studying prospective projects such as rooftop-mounted solar farms in commercial and industrial areas. Initially, the projects will likely be located within Meralco’s franchise area but the company is open to considering other locations, he said.

Asked how much capacity MSpectrum would be able to establish in the Luzon grid, Reyes said it would be “up to 100MW in three years” starting in the first half of 2016.

MSpectrum will focus more on solar power development as wind power exploration and development remains with Meralco PowerGen Corp. or MGen, Reyes said.

He said that through MGen and the new unit, Meralco was actively looking at various possibilities in power, including renewables such as run-of-river and other hydropower projects, and gas.

“We see renewables increasingly playing a role in the energy mix,” Reyes said. “These are the things that we are looking at because we do not want to be a ‘one-fuel generator,’ we would like to spread the risks from different types of power plants.”

The Meralco group has yet to formally unveil MSpectrum but officials said earlier it might be formally established within the year.

Solar power and related renewable energy technologies are seen as disruptive technologies in the power business and are thus topics of interest for Meralco, company chair Manuel V. Pangilinan earlier said.

Pangilinan said in October that Meralco would create an R.E. unit that would be separate from MGen, the power generation arm of Meralco that has so far dealt with legacy technologies such as coal.

The Department of Energy has set a policy that R.E. must form at least a third of the country’s energy mix to promote environment-friendly development, wean the country’s dependence on coal and fossil fuels (which come from abroad and add to the country’s import bill), and create new jobs by harnessing the country’s indigenous resources.