First Gen sets phaseout of gas plants for ‘net zero’ pathway

Published October 24, 2021, 10:30 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Leading clean energy player First Gen Corporation has set the phaseout of its gas-fired power plants as well e-configure the fuel shift to hydrogen as part of the all-inclusive ‘decarbonization strategy’ of the Lopez conglomerate.

In his keynote speech at the GRI-SM ASEAN Sustainability E-Summit, First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPHC) Chairman and CEO Federico R. Lopez divulged that the eventual ditch of their fossil fuel-based power facilities will be the longer term trajectory of their commitment to ‘net zero’ goal by 2050.

“We are planning for eventual phaseout (of the gas plants) in ways that complement a pathway to net zero by 2050,” Lopez emphasized, adding that these plants “could eventually be repowered into using clean hydrogen in the coming decades as technology develops and attains commerciality.”

Within the transition phase, Lopez conveyed that the investment paradigm being embraced by the Lopez group would be to continue running their gas-fed power generating assets with imported liquefied natural gas.

“Our own transition to a decarbonized future will be anchored in the next few years by our efforts to bring in liquefied natural gas (LNG) through First Gen before the end of Malampaya,” Lopez stressed.

He intimated that the four gas plants of the Lopez conglomerate will “keep the lights on and complement renewable energy’s intermittency nicely because of their flexibility and speed,” with him specifying that such technology coupling “are useful in ushering the age of pure renewables/batteries.”

The Lopez group is the undisputed the champion of ‘clean energy transition’ in the Philippines. Even before the government had even plumped for that pathway in the country, its energy ventures were already confined to just renewable energy technologies and its four gas-fired power facilities, namely the 1,000-megawatt Santa Rita, 500MW San Lorenzo, 414MW San Gabriel and 97MW Avion plants.

Beyond reinforcing clean technology applications in the power generation sector, Lopez indicated the other critical steps needed would be harder push on greening the electricity grid as well as re-calibrating the design of cities and communities.

“If we green the electricity grid, it opens up the electrification of transport and many other industrial/manufacturing processes which today are run by polluting fossil fuels like gasoline, diesel and bunker fuel,” the FPHC chief executive noted.

Lopez qualified that “electrification of all aspects of our lives, simultaneous with the greening of the grid, will be absolutely essential to deep decarbonization.”

He similarly highlighted that “beyond designing for a decarbonized world, just as important would be planning for resilience amidst a harsher climate. Here, we could reimagine how we design our cities with resilient infrastructure like underground power lines and distributed generation and microgrids as well as circularity in the use of water, rainwater and waste, which is a valuable resource we’re literally throwing away.”

Equally important in the country’s decarbonization track, according to Lopez, is “how and where we get our food, our building materials (i.e. integrating carbon negative materials like bamboo), the integrative design of buildings and infrastructure, how we cool or warm them, how we insulate them, district cooling, what refrigerants we use, how we dispose of those refrigerants, smart buildings, etc.”

On the broad-ranging goal of sustainability, he asserted this revolves around “building cities that encourage social integration, community and compassion,” – and for aspiring-countries like the Philippines, it could take inspiration from the 15-minute cities being planned for by progressive urban designers/mayors in Paris, Barcelona, London, Detroit, Melbourne and Portland, Oregon “where work, shopping, health and culture are not more than 15-minute walk, and bike ride or mass transit just a ride away.”

He cited that certain cities, like Amsterdam, “are even prioritizing affordable rental housing – allocating 30 to 40 percent of land area – and even integrating them into affluent neighborhoods.”

Lopez accentuated that in this day, “these ideas merely scratch the surface, but preparing for the needs of a rapidly changing world now will ensure that, not only do we avoid getting locked into stranded assets, but we’re equipped to thrive as individuals, companies, communities and as a nation in the coming decades.”

 
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