By Myrna M. Velasco
On target of beefing up its investments on renewable energy, power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is widening the base of its project blueprints to include offshore wind power generation.
Meralco Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ray C. Espinosa indicated that many of the company’s lenders have broached investment proposition on offshore wind, hence, this is now being considered in their prospective ventures.
“I was with some bankers the other week, and they’re saying there’s a lot of development in offshore wind and they are encouraging us to look at offshore wind,” the power firm executive said.
Espinosa relayed that based on his discussion with the banks, offshore wind is already “a very proven technology… they seem to suggest that the Philippines could be a good country for offshore because of our archipelagic nature.”
Offshore wind is one genre of renewable energy technology development that is installed at sea or bodies of water – and this is an investment milieu already embraced by many countries in the world.
Espinosa enthused developments in Europe relative to offshore wind installations could be a good reference – primarily because this technology would not require land compared to onshore wind; and the permitting processes could also be more streamlined because there are no direct communities or properties being traversed in setting up the wind turbines.
Meralco is looking at 600 megawatts of RE installations to be integrated in its power generation portfolio so it could fully comply with the mandate of the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), a policy instituted by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) requiring distribution utilities like Meralco to source a prescribed percentage of their supply from RE plants.
“I think we’re very keen in developing renewable energy and that will be in the context of RPS requirements for Meralco,” Espinosa stressed.
He qualified that in their investment trajectory would be solar and wind farm facilities – those that are of utility-scale installations.
On the overall landscape of adding capacity for the country’s long-term energy security, Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan averred that he “felt vindicated’ because it’s the power system now that is literally and figuratively begging for new power investments.
“I could say, I was vindicated but it does not change the situation. The fact is that even if all approvals are given, these will not just happen in 2-3 years, it takes a while for power plants to be built,” he stressed.
Pangilinan thus implored government “to get approval process as quickly as they can…let the people who have the means and the resources to build power plants. The power issue is going to be with us for the next 2-3 years, all of the advantages of having power plants in excess of demand are there.”