Over 4K megawatts to boost power supply in 2024

Over 4K megawatts to boost power supply in 2024
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MORE than 4,000 megawatts (MW) of power from conventional and renewable sources will come online this year to boost the country’s power supply and help prevent potential power interruptions during peak demand periods, the Department of Energy (DOE) said.

The announcement comes amid the series of yellow and red alerts raised in the Luzon and Visayas grids in April as power reserves thinned and demand outstripped supply for various reasons like plants going on forced outage or running on derated capacities, as well as demand rising as more people use cooling appliances to deal with the higher temperatures caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

The new power supply will help to augment the country’s available generating capacity, which was at 20,332 MW on May 3, 2024.

On that day, peak demand was at 18,640 MW, resulting in an operating margin (power reserves) of just 1,692 MW, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

In a statement, the DOE said that of at least 4,164.92 MW of power projects to come online, 161.20 MW of the projects were already in full commercial operation.

A larger 1,224.655 MW was expected to come online in the second quarter, followed by 1,352.167 MW in the third quarter and 1,571.154 MW in the fourth quarter.

Regional breakdown

The bulk of the expected capacities is in Luzon at 4,030 MW, with the Visayas following at 80.25 MW, and then Mindanao at 52.50 MW.

The highest expected new capacity being in Luzon fits its profile of also being the biggest user of power among the three main island regions.

Last May 3, system peak demand was 13,650 MW in Luzon, 2,339 MW in the Visayas and 2,651 MW in Mindanao, according to the NGCP.

These are against their available generating capacities on that day of 14,802 MW in Luzon, 2,586 MW in the Visayas and 2,944 MW in Mindanao.

Types of plants

In terms of type of plant, the DOE said baseload plants will comprise some 678.06 MW; mid-merit plants, 1,320 MW; and peaking plants, 2,164.92 MW.

The agency defines baseload plants as plants that can generate consistent power to meet daily demand. They can run all year round, except in the case of repairs or scheduled maintenance. They are typically coal, biomass or geothermal power plants.

Intermediate or mid-merit load power plants, on the other hand, fill the gap between baseload and peaking plants. They typically refer to natural gas power plants.

Finally, peaking power plants provide power during peak system demand periods, the DOE said. They can be started up relatively more quickly than other types of plants, but they are expensive to operate (in the case of oil-based power plants due to the use of diesel/bunker oil as fuel). They refer to dam-type hydro and oil-based power plants.

Sources

The power coming on stream this year is drawn from a mix of both renewable and conventional sources.

Conventional sources can be coal, natural gas, oil-based plants, liquefied natural gas or nuclear plants, while renewable energy power plants typically refer to biomass, geothermal, solar, hydro, ocean/tidal and wind plants.

Specific projects

The DOE said among the committed capacities are the 4x150 MW Mariveles Coal-Fired Power Plant (600 MW) with Unit 1 under commercial operation beginning last March while its remaining three units are under testing and commissioning and expected to go on full commercial operations by the third quarter of this year; and the 3x440 MW Batangas Combined Cyle Power Plant (1,320 MW) of Excellent Energy Resources Inc. seen to be operational by the fourth quarter of this year.

The DOE said it was also expecting 1,984.775 MW of solar capacities of which 966.294 MW was to come online by June, while 494.888 MW was under testing and commissioning and could already inject energy to the grid.

At least 590 MW of battery energy storage system is also expected to come online this year, with 32.42 MW already operational.

Help from LGU

As electricity demand continues to grow, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla called on local government units and other government agencies to help investors in their efforts to boost power generating capacity by speeding up the release of permits and addressing right-of-way issues.

The agency said delays in resolving these issues raise the costs of energy products and undermine investor confidence.

According to the DOE, 1,274 MW of installed capacity has become operational since President Ferdinand Maros Jr. assumed office in June 2022.

Installed vs. available

Installed capacity is the maximum amount of electricity that a power plant can produce. However, not all of this gets to the consumer.

“Degradation, station use and seasonal derating” reduce the amount that can be sent to customers to what is called the dependable capacity of the plant, which is the capacity that can be relied upon monthly or annually for medium-term and long-term planning, according to a presentation made by then DOE undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella for media in 2018.

The dependable capacity is further reduced by unit derating to what is called the available capacity, which is the ability of a power plant or a generating unit to produce electricity in a certain time period, such as hourly or daily.

Michael Ligalig, government relations and regional affairs lead specialist of the NGCP Cebu and Bohol area, explained to SunStar Cebu last month that when a power plant runs on a derated capacity, it means the supply it is providing is not the expected capacity or there is a decrease in its available capacity, such as when it conducts maintenance activities. / CTL

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