Editorial: Pushing for more renewable energy plants

ALSONS Power Group launched on November 22, 2019 its first renewable energy project -- the P4.5 billion 14.5-megawatt (MW) Siguil Hydroelectric Power Plant (HEPP) in Maasim, Sarangani.

The hydroelectric power plant is targeted to begin commercial operations in 2022 and will provide power to Sarangani Province, General Santos City, and key municipalities of South Cotabato.

"In the next few years, in terms of the total number of power facilities, renewable energy will constitute the largest segment of our Alsons Power portfolio," Alsons Consolidated Resources Inc. (ACR) Chairman and President Tomas I. Alcantara said.

This is a welcome development to the power sector of Mindanao because while it has been experiencing an oversupply of electricity for the past four years, there has been a shift in the share of renewable and non-renewable power resources in the power supply mix of the island.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), as of December 31, 2018, non-renewable resources, which includes coal-fired and oil-fired power plants, account for around 65 percent of the power supply mix of Mindanao.

On the other hand, renewable power sources account for 35 percent of the supply mix in Mindanao. Hydropower plants take up 30 percent of the total power supply mix in Mindanao.

Prior to the Mindanao power crisis between 2013 and 2014, the power mix of Mindanao was dominated by renewable energy, particularly the hydroelectric power plants.

Based on the current power situation of Mindanao, there is a need for the government to facilitate the entry of renewable energy projects in Mindanao to balance the current mix.

Up until this day, there are still issues when it comes to the lengthy process of putting up a renewable energy plant in the country.

Assistant secretary Romeo M. Montenegro, Mindanao Development Authority deputy executive director, earlier said regulatory process for renewable energy projects can take as long as seven years.

While the government and DOE have implemented measures to fast-track the entry of renewable energy power plants in the country, there is still a lot to be done to ensure that the power supply mix on the island.

At present, it is also not easy to put up a new renewable energy plant in Mindanao. With most of the power distributors being fully contracted and the available excess supply in the Mindanao grid, it would not be easy for power developers to sell new capacity. Mindanao not being connected to the national grid may also hinder the entry of new power generators.

However, there is an opportunity for new developers in the coming years.

According to DOE, Mindanao will be needing 10,400 megawatts (MW) of additional capacity by 2040. Hence, there is time for power generators to plan accordingly in developing renewable energy power plants in Mindanao.

For a sustainable power industry in the future, Mindanao needs to have a balanced power supply mix.


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