Mindanao bats for RE investments offset

by Myrna Velasco, 02 March 2015
from Manila Bulletin

After deluge of coal-fired power plants, Mindanao grid is now centering its investment invitations for renewable energy (RE) capacities to help balance their energy carbon footprints.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), in a statement to the media, has noted that the stakeholders in the area are now “mapping up steps to provide Mindanao with a greener and renewable power supply in the next five years.”

Luwalhati Antonino

With the baseload needs of the power grid having been finally resolved with the commissioning of several coal plant projects, their attention is now shifted into tapping cleaner options for their longer term energy needs.

MinDA Secretary Luwalhati Antonino has noted that “compared to the situation last year and the years before, the state of Mindanao power today had seen significant improvement with the immediate and medium term measures.”

She added that even with the ongoing maintenance shutdown of a big power plant in the area, the grid had not been pummeled with brownouts on an aggravated scale as the previous years.

The expected capacity additions for this year until 2016 are considerably enormous at 500 megawatts – coming from the 300MW coal-fired facility of Therma South Inc. of the Aboitiz Group; and 200MW coal plant of the Sarangani Energy Corporation of the Alcantara group.

Yet while the consumers in the area will be appreciative ending their years of tragedy with rotating brownouts, the next challenge is on minimizing their carbon emissions so their energy solutions could not eternally be regarded as ‘contributory’ to global warming risks.

“The expected entry of more baseload capacities from coal-fired power plants totaling 2,000MW until 2018 should be complemented by accelerated deployment of renewable of RE projects,” Antonino said.

Her agency is in fact the trailblazer in setting up a ‘One-Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Center’ to untangle gridlocks in the permitting and approval processes for RE projects.

The streamlined policy is being pioneered for Mindanao RE investments, but it is now being adopted as potential template by the Department of Energy (DOE) in pursuing a wider coverage – that when feasible shall be employed nationwide.

It is a web-based mechanism aimed at accelerating the duration of permitting processes for RE projects to 1-2 years instead of the typical 3-5 years.

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