QUEZON CITY, May 15, 2023 – The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) announced in a virtual briefing yesterday that renewable energy (RE) projects will become operational soon in the Philippine grid, but their harmonization with the existing plan of the transmission system needs to be considered.

“The influx of a lot of variable technologies will need a lot of upgrades from the grid and these should be considered in terms of whether the quickest and easiest solution is from the grid’s perspective or perhaps looking at technologies coming in and ensuring these harmonizes with the existing development plan of the transmission system,” said NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza.

Alabanza added that the company is committed to finishing priority transmission projects this year. “But again, we can only commit to developing our part, but the whole energy supply chain needs to be resilient,” she said.

In response, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) energy transition advisor Alberto Dalusung III said:

“We welcome the announcement of the NGCP to integrate RE projects in the Philippine grid, which is a huge step forward in the country’s energy transition. However, in order to achieve affordable, reliable, and secure power in the Philippines, what we need is to modernize the grid, geared towards flexible and distributed generation through renewables. Simply integrating RE in the current transmission setup is not enough.

“The current grid is centralized on large baseload coal power plants which is unsuitable for the country’s variable load demand and recurring supply shortages. The low capacity factors of coal power plants are a result of their intermittency and numerous unplanned outages, similar to the recent outages this month, leading to service interruptions in the areas serviced by Meralco.

“Unlike coal, renewable energy is not intermittent, as previously stated by the NGCP. It may be variable, but it is highly available and predictable. In fact, the Department of Energy (DOE) has identified tens of thousands of renewable energy capacity in their Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ), making RE the most viable option for cost-effective grid operations, especially since it is not affected by the volatility of prices in global markets as it is readily available in the country

“RE power plants such as geothermal have the highest capacity factors at 71 percent in 2022, compared to coal power plants at only 65 percent.  This is against the common notion about coal plants being highly available and reliable. In fact, nine large coal plants in the country had lower than 65 percent capacity in 2022, including Mariveles Unit 2, Sual Unit 2, Calaca Unit 1, Calaca Unit 2, Pagbilao Unit 1, Pagbilao Unit 2, Mariveles Unit 1, Quezon Power, and San Buenaventura.

“Ultimately, evidence shows that we urgently need to shift towards flexible and distributed power generation using indigenous and readily available renewable energy sources. Everyone in the Philippine power sector has a role to play, we need all hands on deck to achieve an energy system that is affordable, reliable, and secure, and that suits the needs of all Filipinos.”

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Manila-based international policy group advancing climate resilience and low carbon development.

AC Dimatatac, media@icsc.ngo, +63 998 546 9788, +63 917 149 5649