by Lenie Lectura, 02 July 2015
UNIVERSAL Robina Corp. (URC) of the Gokongwei family has inaugurated a 46-megawatt (MW) biomass power plant in Kabankalan City, Negros Islands, marking its entry into renewable energy (RE).
Half of the power plant’s output will be used by URC’s sugar mill. The other 23 MW will go to the national grid under a 25-year operating contract with the Department of Energy (DOE).
The biomass power plant is URC’s Sugar and Renewable Division, foray into RE.
“It will bring increased value to the sugar that we mill in order to prepare for the increased competition,” URC President and CEO Lance Gokongwei said.
Bagasse is a by-product of URC’s sugar mill in Kabankalan, which has a capacity of about 9,000 tons per day.
“The selling point in biomass is that it actually puts value into what you normally throw away: the bagasse. When you do that, you can actually decrease the overall cost of food in this country,” said former Energy Secretary Carlo Jericho L. Petilla, who attended the plant’s inauguration last month.
“This is [a] welcome news that we have the new power plant here.… This is an additional 46MW, as far as I am concerned,” Petilla added.
The Philippines hopes to raise the share of RE in the power mix to 15,304 MW by 2030, about half of projected demand for that year.
Latest figures from the DOE show that the power plants that use coal, oil and natural gas still account for 10,772 MW, or about 70 percent of the energy mix. Hydro and geothermal energy make up over 5,274 MW. Wind, solar and biofuel power plants contributed only 117 MW into the mix.
In the Visayas demand is forecast to grow to 4,412 MW by 2030.
The grid currently has an installed capacity of 2,402 MW, and only 310 MW have so far been committed.