By Myrna M. Velasco
With forecasts of demand growth primarily ushered in by the buoyant “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure development program of the government, the Department of Energy (DOE) indicated that it will be reviewing the country’s overall energy plan.
“The DOE is conducting an assessment of the power sector’s accomplishments vis-à-vis the previous year’s projection,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said.
The energy chief noted that while the country’s energy plan is being updated on a yearly basis, the “review move” will serve as their basis in coming up with new projections – chiefly in the needed power capacity additions in the country.
Industry players have been setting new projections that supply-demand (especially for the main grid of Luzon), will intersect again by year 2021-2022; and according to the energy department, it is also taking such into account.
In this year’s summer months, the main power grid in the country had wobbled at breaking point when the scorching weather had pulled up demand – and the irony of that was, many of the power plants had been suffering from forced outages.
Both the newly commissioned plants and the older fleets were encountering unplanned outages – that the incidents in the electricity system had not just prodded DOE to look at the technical efficiency of the power generating facilities, but for it to also lay down policy on plant retirements.
Beyond the usual supply-demand growth trajectories being crunched for the traditional power end-users – such as the residential, commercial and industrial customers; the energy department’s attention is also being called upon to rope in technology innovations in its future energy planning.
For one, there are aspirations for the country to eventually embrace “electric mobility” or the deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) to replace the usual mode of public transport in the Philippines – and the private motorists are also anticipated to jump into that bandwagon in the near future.
With accelerated e-mobility, energy planners are thus advised to factor them in into their energy planning – not just the volume of supply that these vehicles will be needing; but what type of technology will be powering them.
In the case of the Philippines, it is also entering a season of more variable renewable energy (VRE) integration into its electricity system – and that too, will need careful planning as to what technology shall be appropriately incorporated in the energy mix to address fluctuations when the sun doesn’t shine and when the wind won’t blow – and taking into consideration that utility scale battery storage still has to reach commercial viability.