Renewable energy projects seen to meet Mindanao’s power needs

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 July) — Mindanao will soon attain sufficient power supply with the addition of more renewable energy projects with a combined potential capacity of 2,998 megawatts (MW), an official said.

Romeo M. Montenegro, director for the Investment Promotion and Public Affairs Office of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said this would happen if government approved the 288 pending renewable energy projects, which are now in various stages of applications.

Montenegro, speaking at Media Power 101 in Davao City on Thursday, cited that in April and July this year, two companies held the groundbreaking for their hydropower projects.

One was the P13-billion hydropower project of Aboitiz Power in Barangay Maluko, Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon.

The other was the 2.4-MW minihydro power plant of the Euro Hydro Power Holdings in Barangay Andap, New Bataan, in Compostela Valley.

The project in Manolo Fortich comprises two units, with installed capacities of 43.4 MW (unit 1) and 25.4 MW (unit 2). It will tap the Tagaloan River, which is classified by the National Water Resources Board as the 13th largest river system in the Philippines.

Montenegro said most of the renewable energy projects are investments in hydropower.

He said 15 Mindanao provinces are viable for biomass projects and 15 for small hydropower plants.

The official said he hopes that at least 100 MW to 200 MW more will be approved within the year and at least 200 MW deployed between 2016 and 2020.

He said Mindanao still has several potential renewable energy projects that can meet the island’s power demand until 2030.

However, aside from the two-year construction timeframe, renewable energy investors have to spend three to five years in processing their applications before 13 regulatory agencies.

With the One-Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Center (OSFMC) now in place, Montenegro said they have talked with the permitting agencies in a bid to shorten the application period.

The OSFMC was set up as one of the recommendations of the Mindanao stakeholders during the Mindanao Power Summit in April 2012 to address the clamor of investors for a more seamless application process.

The One-Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Web Portal was also set up so that investors can monitor their applications in a specific agency through real-time online updating of status.

A Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC) was created to “spearhead and coordinate efforts of government and power industry stakeholders to improve the power situation” in the island.

“What we’re doing now is we assist and facilitate to encourage investors to come in,” Montenegro added.

The Agus and Pulangui hydropower complexes supply at least 55 percent of the total Mindanao power mix.

Montenegro said they want a balanced power in Mindanao – 50 percent from hydro and 50 percent from fuel.

The Mindanao grid cannot heavily rely on hydropower since it relies on ample rainfall, while fuel like coal is imported and depends on prices in the global market.

Montenegro said they want to heed the global clamor for lessening the use of coal since it is a finite source of power.

He said they are eyeing the oceans as a potential power source.

According to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, the system capacity of the Mindanao grid was at 1,192 MW while the demand was 1,366 MW, with a power deficit at 174 MW as of 1 pm Thursday.

Since 2001, Luzon was able to construct 4,000 MW and Visayas 2,000 MW, which are enough to support the developments happening on both islands. Mindanao only had less than 300 MW.

Seeing Mindanao’s dire lack of power, more investors are coming in but Montenegro explained this will mean higher costs on the part of consumers. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)