Transmission woes block renewable energy expansion in Negros

THE Department of Energy (DOE) said problems on transmission are currently blocking the opportunity to expand renewable energy generation in Negros Island Region (NIR), especially for solar.

Lawyer Jose Layug, chairman of National Renewable Energy Board of DOE, said there is a pressing need to upgrade all transmission lines to allow more renewable energy plants to be built in the region.

Layug said Negros’ current generating capacity is at least 300 megawatts (MW) yet the region still has huge potentials for expansion not only for solar, but also biomass and hydro power plants.

“As long as there is no upgrading of transmission facilities, unfortunately we cannot cater to additional RE (renewable energy) plants,” Layug said. “We have to be very calculated in building more power firms because the Cebu-Negros-Panay lines are still constrained.”

It would not be viable to expand the generation if power cannot be efficiently transmitted, he added.

Layug was in Bacolod City on Thursday, July 13, for the Negros Renewable Energy Summit 2017 at the SMX Convention Center.

During the summit, the DOE official pointed out that renewable energy power plants in Negros are not fully utilized due to lack of transmission facilities thus, there is an oversupply.

Layug said problems on the capacity of transmission lines might also causing intermittent power interruptions in the region.

“In the absence of sun, there is also no power. It’s a variable that may cause instant drop in supply thus, we need to have the proper technology and infrastructure for intermittent renewable energy like solar,” he said.

Layug added that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has already filed a petition before the Energy Regulatory Commission to upgrade their lines.

“We have been urging the transmission utility to resolve the issue by speeding up its upgrading measures to fully utilize all the power generated by plants here,” he added.

Earlier, NGCP has discouraged the development of additional power plants in Negros and Panay Islands as it will result to more line congestion woes.

Engineer Christian Ereño, head of NGCP’s Visayas Systems Planning, had said that NGCP does not encourage more plants in two islands until the completion of its Cebu-Negros-Panay 230 kilovolts (kV) Backbone Project positioned to fully address line congestion problems in the Visayas.

Ereño said the Cebu-Negros-Panay 230-kV Backbone Project will translate to an additional transmission capacity of 800-MW between Negros and Cebu.

“Before its full completion and operation, which is targeted by 2020, NGCP will limit the supply dispatch of power plants in Negros and Panay to avoid overloading,” he added.

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