By MYRNA M. VELASCO
The new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been causing delays in the two solar power projects that are being advanced to construction phases by the subsidiary of Manila Electric Company (Meralco), because the shipments of the solar panels from China had been held up.
“Unfortunately, two of our projects that are supposed to be commissioned this year – solar totaling about 135 megawatts DC (direct current), we encountered some delays because the PV (photovoltaic) panels that are coming from China have not been shipped out,” Meralco PowerGen Corporation President Rogelio L. Singson said.
He said for the company’s solar farm installation in Tarlac, “about close to 30-percent has been delivered,” while the other project in Bulacan is getting hobbled because the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor is from China.
When the COVID-19 global health scare eases, Singson indicated their target for the Tarlac project is to reach commissioning by the middle of this year. “We think there may be a push back because of the non-delivery of panels,” he explained.
For the Bulacan solar venture, he indicated that the hurdle lies in the fact that “every time there is a new engineer that comes around, we have to quarantine them for 14 days. Aside from engineers, we also have PV panels coming from China.”
The two projects form part of the targeted 1,000 to 1,200MW of renewable energy (RE) portfolio that the power generation investment arm of Meralco will be concretizing in the immediate term.
“We’re still hopeful. Some of the experts say the virus might die down during summer months. Hopefully, this is resolved sooner so that the factories where these panels are going to come from in China will start moving panels from the plant to be shipped to ports to Manila,” Singson stressed.
The projects, he qualified, are still ongoing. “We’re just delayed because of the delivery of the panels. The construction is ongoing. Fencing is almost done; site clearing has been completed. We’re just waiting for the panels that we will install,” he added.
Of the upper scale target of the company, the MGen executive emphasized that it will likely be a combination of solar and wind farm installations – although for the latter, the specific project sites had not been revealed yet by the company.
Beyond the targeted baseload capacity projects of the company, MGen is also aggressively pursuing RE investments that could help advance the county’s energy transition agenda into cleaner technologies.
Via corporate vehicle MGen Renewable Energy, Inc. (MGREEN), parent firm Meralco had given its go-signal last year on the funneling of ₱424.2 million as equity investments into its initial firmed up ventures that command total capital outlay of ₱10 billion.