By Myrna M. Velasco
MAUBAN, Quezon – At this time when Luzon grid has been experiencing fresh round of supply tightness, the switch-on and official market debut of the P56.2 billion San Buenaventura Power Co. Ltd. (SBPL) coal-fired generating facility significantly boosted supply availability in the Luzon grid with additional 455-megawatt net capacity.
The power project, a joint venture of Meralco PowerGen (MGen) and its partner New Growth B.V., which is a subsidiary of Electricity Generating Company of Thailand (EGCO), has so far been touted to be utilizing the most advanced equipment – a super critical boiler which is in the genre of high efficiency, low emissions (HELE) technology.
The reinforced efficiency of the plant’s technology enables it to generate electricity with less coal per megawatt of generation; while at the same time reducing emissions of other pollutants like nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter.
The switch-on ceremony was led by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera on Tuesday (October 15) at the power plant site; while Luzon grid was declared to be on its second day of “yellow alert” this week — or that condition wherein there is strained reserves due to tight supply.
Following its commercial commissioning, the SBPL plant has been contributing maximum generation to the Luzon grid – reaching its full rated capacity of 455MW net generation.
“The Philippine electric power industry welcomes the entry of new and emerging innovations, such as this plant’s supercritical power generation technology, which produces more efficient power generation, while emitting less greenhouse gases,” Cusi said.
The plant officially commenced commercial operations last September 26, following the issuance of its provisional authority to operate (PAO) by the ERC. The PAO will last for six months, then upon compliance of all requirements, the facility could be granted with its certificate of compliance (COC) or its firmer and official license to operate.
On broadsides relating to coal-fired power generation, Cusi asserted that the Philippines has yet to quench its “energy thirst” – hence, it could not stick yet to “all renewable energy solution” – but he noted that the use of more advanced technology for coal plants would be “a most welcome development” in the energy sector.
“Bearing in mind that the energy choices we make today will affect future generations, I am glad to have been given the opportunity to participate in the inauguration of one of the most advanced and efficient plants in the country,” Cusi stressed.
The SBPL power project reached construction phase in 2015 – and it was partly financed by a P42.15 billion loan, which at that time was considered as the Philippines’ largest all-peso transaction put together by a consortium of local banks.
The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract of the project had been awarded to South Korea’s Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd. and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation – which brought the project to record completion.
The generation capacity of the plant has been committed under a 20-year power supply agreement (PSA) to the load network of Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distribution utility.