REAP: Mini-grid systems to boost electrification in PHL

By Lenie Lectura – June 4, 2019
from Business Mirror

THE Renewable Energy Association of the Philippines (REAP) said on Monday that mini-grid systems would accelerate total electrification in the country.

“Mini-grid systems will play an important role in ensuring and accelerating the total electrification of the country. Being an archipelagic country, centralized power generation can be challenging if not costly,” said Erel Narida, REAP president.

Narida cited Sabang Renewable Energy Corp.’s (SREC) hybrid mini-grid project located in Sitio Sabang in Barangay Cabayugan, where the Puerto Princesa Subterranean National Park is located.  He said the project would be a suitable solution for electrification, which is still at 88.3 percent or 2.78 million household unelectrified as of December 2017, citing data from the Department of Energy.

“Most of these households are located in the Visayas and Mindanao, mostly in small islands, either underserved using expensive diesel genset with limited operating or totally unserved. The mini-grid system can utilize the indigenous and new and renewable energy (RE) like solar, wind, hydro, biomass or ocean in power generation that will eventually reduce our dependence on diesel or imported energy,” Narida said.

The SREC is a consortium of Vivant Energy Corp., Gigawatt Power Inc. and WEnergy Global. It will operate a hybrid power plant—combining solar panels and diesel engines—and an electricity distribution system that will provide stable and reliable renewable energy in Barangay Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa City.

“Sabang Renewables has showcased such integration  or hybridization of RE specifically solar, battery and diesel genset as back-up for power generation. This setup is more socially and environmentally acceptable due to reduced running time of diesel genset, and  primary source of power is RE. For these reasons, this is worth emulating,” Narida said.

Narida said SREC has showcased they have the capability and capacity to put the said mini-grid system.

“Very encouraging for local mini-grid developers to follow suit. The next challenge is to accelerate replication with more participation of local SMEs in the RE market space. The easing of regulations, access to funds, adaption of new RE technologies on integration and understanding the market—both economics and social dynamics on island mini grid—are key factors we have to look into to accelerate this development,” Narida said.

Under optimal conditions, SREC’s hybrid plant will generate as much as 2.6 megawatts (MW) once it is completed. This will allow the mini-grid to provide power to approximately 10 public buildings, 18 small businesses, 19 hotels and restaurants, and 583 households.

The project is seen to save the environment from over 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide while providing stable and reliable energy that will improve everyday living in Cabayugan.

“We want to provide Sitio Sabang and Barangay Cabayugan with reliable electricity 24/7 at the most competitive rate possible. Since we will be the model for future mini-grids in the country, we have spared no expense or effort in ensuring we give the best service,” SREC Chairman Emil Garcia said earlier.