Meralco seeks partners for solar-plant project

by Lenie LecturaJuly 28, 2016

from Business Mirror

THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is seeking partners for its plan to build a 50-megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plant in Luzon.

“We are hopeful that we will break in the utility-scale solar within a fairly short period of time,” Meralco President Oscar Reyes said. “We try to partner with strategic partners, so that there’s someone that validates our projects.”

When asked to identify these prospective partners, Reyes said the company is “open to new and existing” firms that are experts in this field.

The utility company has created a unit, MSpectrum, to house its solar-power business. Alfredo Panlilio, Meralco SVP and head for customer retail services and corporate communications, would lead MSpectrum, which will pursue solar-power projects on an opportunistic basis for both utility-scale and rooftop-solar investments.

A utility-scale solar facility is one that generates solar power and feeds it into the grid, supplying a utility with energy.  Every utility-scale solar facility has a power- purchase agreement (PPA) with a utility, guaranteeing a market for its energy for a fixed term of time.

Solar rooftop, meanwhile, are panels mounted on the rooftop of a residential or commercial building or structure.

Panlilio earlier said Meralco is in talks with various contractors and suppliers to assist MSpectrum. “We are talking to a lot of entities regarding solar. We are talking to a lot of suppliers and EPC [engineering, procurement and construction] contractors. Miescor is one of potential EPCs.”

Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corp. (Miescor) is Meralco’s engineering unit.

Aside from solar, Reyes cited wind, hydro and biomass as other renewable energy (RE) sources that would be included in the power firm’s portfolio.

“We are actually going into that direction now, because we have sort of laid out all our baseload requirements well into the next few years,” he said, adding other RE business, particularly the large-scale renewables, would be under Meralco PowerGen Corp., the company’s power-generating arm.

Reyes said Meralco’s business direction is more on “how do we serve our midmerit and peaking requirements. I think that solar being intermittent will really play a role together with battery storage.”

Part of its RE strategy, Reyes said, is to create joint ventures with “established and credible partners.”

“For other RE projects, our approach will continue to be partnerships, except for smaller ones,” Reyes said.