DOE to integrate ‘stranded’ solar, biomass plants in RE auction

Published September 8, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Totalling 480 MW

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The composite team formed by the Department of Energy (DOE) has recommended the integration of up to 480 megawatts of ‘stranded’ solar and biomass capacities in the auction for the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) scheduled next year.

National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) Chairperson Monalisa C. Dimalanta said the stranded capacities accounted for 360 to 380MW of solar projects that had been excluded in the feed-in-tariff (FIT) incentive scheme; and additional 100MW from biomass installations.

“For the first auction, we are looking at including the plants or the capacities that were not able to make it to the FIT. So initially, we already have – from the solar plants that were not able to obtain the FIT – around360 to 380MW,” she emphasized.

Dimalanta noted while evaluation for the extended FIT program for biomass is still ongoing, there is already calculation that about 100MW may not gain a pass into the incentive scheme.

“If they (biomass projects) are not able to quality, then the Green Energy Auction Program is the alternative available to them. Maybe 100MW also from the biomass plants,” the NREB chief said.

She further qualified “that’s from what we call the stranded FIT capacities. But for the volumes required for the RPS compliance – that’s still under evaluation because right now as you all know, demand has decreased because of the pandemic.”

The RPS is being aligned as the next policy support to incent investments in the RE sector because this requires the distribution utilities (DUs) to source prescribed percentage of their supply from RE facilities; hence, providing a market for the generated electricity of such clean energy installations.

Director Mylene C. Capongcol of the DOE’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau indicated that the slated bidding for the RPS is middle of next year; and she affirmed that the total volume of RE capacity for the tender is still under review.

“We’re doing a recalculation of the RPS requirement and based on the initial simulation we did, the shortfall will come by 2027. And because of the Covid, there is a slide in the demand, particularly on the electricity sales of mandated participants or the DUs,” the energy official stressed.

Currently, she said the minimum target is for 2,000 megawatts; but that could change depending on the final numbers that will come out from the review of the RE composite team relating to the RPS auction.
Onward to 2040, Capongcol reiterated previously laid down target of the government to corner additional 13,000 megawatts (13 gigawatts) of RE capacity ushered in by the RPS program.

The energy official explained such capacity shoring up will just come from the mandatory RE program, which is the RPS; but has not factored in yet the additional RE capacities underpinned by voluntary programs such as on net metering – the latter of which can re-position consumers to be the producers of their own electricity supply; and for any excess on their output, they may opt to inject it into the grid.
“Both the voluntary and mandatory mechanisms, we hope to really enhance its implementation or fast-track or give more pro-active attention in promoting the implementation of these programs,” Capongcol noted.