Meralco solar projects hit snag

By Jordeene B. Lagare – February 29, 2020
from The Manila Times

MERALCO PowerGen Corp. (MGen), the power generation arm of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), reiterated its commitment toward achieving 1,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy (RE) projects as part of its energy transition toward zero-carbon electricity.

MGen President President and Chief Executive Officer Rogelio Singson

However, Singson said the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak caused a setback in the development of the solar facilities located in the northern part of the country.In a recent briefing, MGen President President and Chief Executive Officer Rogelio Singson said its two solar projects in Tarlac and Bulacan, with a combined capacity of 135 MW direct current (DC), are supposed to be commissioned in the latter part of the year.

“Unfortunately, two of our projects that are supposed to be commissioned this year, solar totaling about 135 MW DC, we encountered some delays because of the PV (photovoltaic) panels that are coming from China have not been shipped out,” he told reporters.

In the case of the Tarlac project, only 30 percent of the solar panels were delivered.

“Similarly, another project in Bulacan is also encountering difficulties . . . because our contractor is from China, so that every time there is a new engineer that comes around, we have to quarantine them for 14 days. Aside from engineers, we also have PV panels coming from China,” Singson said.

“Actually, it’s a go. We’re just delayed because of the delivery of the panels. The construction is ongoing. Fencing is almost done. Site clearing has been completed. Iniintay na lang yung ilalatag (We are just waiting for the delivery of solar panels and have those installed),” he added.

Amid the delays, MGen remains optimistic of completing the projects.

“We’re still hopeful, some of the experts say the virus might die down during summer months. Hopefully this is resolved sooner so that the factories where these panels are going to come from in China will start moving panels from the plant to the ship to ports in Manila,” Singson said.

MGen is still eyeing to achieve up to 1,200 MW of renewables, including wind projects.
“We will try to do more renewables in the coming months,” Singson said.

The firm is focusing on the development of a portfolio of utility scale solar, wind and hydropower projects in the Luzon grid.

This is in line with Meralco’s energy transition roadmap from high carbon (coal) to low carbon (natural gas) and subsequently zero carbon (RE), which was first announced in September last year.

MGen previously announced its plans to invest in 1,000 MW of RE projects over the next five to seven years.

MGen Renewable Energy Inc., a subsidiary established by MGen last year to serve as a platform for RE investments, secured equity funding worth P424 million to bankroll P10-billion worth solar projects with a total capacity of 210 MW.